Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It may be that you cannot remain erect long enough or achieve an erection firm enough for intercourse. It’s completely normal to have difficulty getting an erection from time to time (due to drinking alcohol or feeling anxious, for example), but erectile dysfunction means it happens regularly and begins to interfere with your sexual activities. Erectile dysfunction is extremely important to evaluate because in some cases, it can be indicative of more serious problems with your vascular health.
There are a variety of types and causes of erectile dysfunction which include:
An erection is the result of blood flow to the tissues of the penis, meaning that when these blood vessels don’t function as they should, it can negatively affect your ability to become erect. Conditions or injuries that affect the nerves can also prevent an erection. Finally, because of the role testosterone and other hormones play in becoming erect, low hormone levels can also be a cause.
Some health conditions and physical causes that can interfere with erections include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol and blood pressure
- Diabetes and obesity
- Peyronie’s disease
- Surgical or traumatic injury to the pelvic area
- Alcoholism and substance abuse
- Certain medications
- Low testosterone
Many physiological and mental factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Feeling relaxed, excited, and engaged during sex is key to becoming aroused – meaning if you’re prevented from entering this state by mental barriers, it can cause frustration. This may prevent the appropriate physical response that normally results in an erection. The mental causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Relationship problems
- Low self-esteem
- Trauma, anxiety, or negative feelings surrounding sex
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction include being unable to get an erection during sex – or being able to get an erection before sex but being unable to sustain it throughout.
You may even be completely unable to get an erection. If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, you may experience extreme embarrassment in sexual situations, which can further prevent your ability to become erect. This may lead you to avoid sex altogether. In any case, seeking care from our providers can help you feel more confident in your sexual expression and address any underlying health concerns that may be contributing.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction begins with tracking down the specific cause. This may include an in-depth discussion with our providers about your symptoms and circumstances around episodes of erectile dysfunction. Certain bloodwork such as a hormone panel might be ordered to determine any physiological causes. You’ll discuss your complete medical history to determine if any medications might be contributing, as well.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the specific causes. Some options include:
- Testosterone therapy for low hormone levels
- Pulse Wave Therapy and the P-Shot® for low blood flow to the penis
- Lifestyle or medication adjustments
- Psychotherapy to address mental health symptoms
- Prescription medications or devices to use before and during sex
Our providers will develop a treatment plan focused on helping you feel more confident and comfortable during sex rather than worrying about erectile dysfunction.
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