Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem of not being able to get and keep an erection or hard on for long enough. It is generally defined as the inability to get or keep an erection sufficient for sex, and is related to blood flow in and out of the penis. Erectile dysfunction becomes more common as we age - maybe half of all men in their 50s have had erection problems at some time, and by age 65, at least 25% men suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Causes

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by many things, the most common being aging. As we age, the risk of getting erectile dysfunction increases. Any conditions or diseases that cause problems with blood flow into or out of the penis, or which damage the nerves that cause an erection, may make it harder to get erections. Some common causes are smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, excessive alcohol consumption and surgery.

Diagnosis and treatment

You will need blood tests to check your testosterone level, blood sugar level and thyroid function.

There are a few treatment options for erectile dysfunction and these include counselling, medication such as Viagra, penile injections (drugs injected into the penis cause the blood vessels to increase in size), vacuum devices (work by sucking blood into the penis) or penile prosthesis (hydraulic cylinders that are surgical placed into the body of the penis itself). It is important to remember that not all treatment options work for everyone. Also, some treatments take time to work so try to be patient and be willing to try different options so you can find the right one that works for you. The most important thing to remember in any sexual relationship is your relationship with your partner - erectile dysfunction can put a lot of stress on your relationship so try and work out what is best for both of you.