Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition previously known as impotence. It is distinguished by worsened quality of erection (hardness of the penis when aroused), the failure to maintain or develop strong enough erection sufficient for a complete intercourse.

The term "erectile dysfunction" was coined in 1992 when the American National Institute of Health replaced the term “impotence” with a broader concept. WHO reports that based on numerous international studies, one man in ten at the age of 22-29 has episodes of ED. By the age of 30-35, 5 men from ten have had trouble developing an erection. And by the age of 40 almost every second man has these problems. And getting past 40s, the incidence of the disorder occurs even more frequently, i.e. if it were separate episodes, after this age, man start experiencing regular symptoms of ED or even their worsening.

How can you prevent ED?

Like any other disorder, it is easier to prevent than treat ED. Thus, you need to go to a urologist in the first case of:

- Erection takes more time for develop;
- Erection lasts less than previously (sometimes the penis can become flaccid even during intercourse);
- Premature ejaculation (commonly, these two conditions come hand in hand).

The reasons for the development of ED are divided into external and internal.

External causes of ED:

- Tobacco smoking;
- Regular excessive alcohol consumption, recreational drugs use.
- Chronic fatigue, chronic insufficient sleep;
- Chronic stress;
- Poor diet deficient in vitamins and nutrients, consumption of semi-processed food, diet consisting of carbohydrates on 90%.
- Work with radiation.

External factors can also include the peculiarities of a boy’s upbringing. For instance, if a family had taboo on expressing emotions, if sex outside marriage was considered a sin, etc. A man can be also raised to be ashamed of failure and this can cause a psychogenic cause of ED. For instance, if a man fails to achieve erection once due to stress, then in the next time shame and fear of failure add up and make and transfer the inability to achieve an erection into regularity.

Internal causes of ED:

- Hormonal imbalance: low testosterone, pituitary gland and adrenal glands dysfunction;
- Medication’s adverse effects.
- Age-related diseases (for instance, cardiovascular diseases);
- Diseases of the central nervous system;
- Diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome.

This is a list of possible underlying diseases that result in ED. However, it can be longer. To find out the real reason in a particular case, a man should undergo a thorough medical examination. Only finding out the main cause and treating it, a man can get rid of ED.

What are the options for ED treatment?

- The main role in the treatment of ED is played by the treatment of the underlying disease, i.e. a condition that led to symptoms of ED.
- If the problem is in nerve endings or blood vessels of the penis affected by an injury, then a surgery can be made.

The other methods are symptomatic, i.e. they don’t solve the problem but help cope with the symptoms:

- Use of erection enhancers based on PDE5 inhibitors such as Tadalafil, Sildenafil, and so on. These medicines are approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and can be used as an addition to the treatment of an underlying disease if a man has no contraindications for their use. These pills enhance the blood inflow to the penis when a man is aroused. In other words, they facilitate the natural process of erection which is helpful even in psychogenic causes of the dysfunction.
- Surgery on the penile blood vessels. It is made when a man has direct indications for it, i.e. when the examination shows that there is a problem namely in these blood vessels. The surgery can help 90% of men but is traumatic and the effect is not permanent if a man doesn’t improve his lifestyle which led to the vessels deterioration.
- Penile prosthesis. It is surgery that is preferred by older men who want to have an ability to have intercourse whenever they want without using pills. However, men who go for this operation should know that the aesthetic aspect is not taken into account in this surgery. The genitalia is basically always hard, so it is not the best choice for younger men.

Author's Bio: 

M.D., Copenhagen, Denmark