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Erectile Dysfunction Causes & Treatments
If you experience erectile dysfunction (ED), it doesn’t mean you’re getting old. ED is more common than you might think, particularly in men under 40. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to be afraid of. ED is treatable at any age, and knowing the cause can help you or your doctor treat it effectively.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity. It’s also sometimes referred to as impotence.
While it’s normal to occasionally have trouble getting or keeping an erection, if it happens frequently, ED could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or low testosterone. If you’re experiencing ED, talk to your doctor.
Causes of ED
There are many possible causes of ED, both psychological and physical.
Psychological causes of ED can include:
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
Physical causes of ED can include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
- Sleep disorders
- Tobacco use
- Possible side effect of certain medications
- Injuries or surgeries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
- Hormonal imbalances
Certain lifestyle choices can also contribute to ED, such as:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Illegal drug use
The treatment for ED will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, making lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed to improve ED.
If there’s a physical cause, your doctor may recommend medications to treat it. These can include:
- Oral phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These include sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), tadalafil (Cialis) and avanafil (Stendra). These drugs increase blood flow to the penis, enabling an erection when sexually aroused.
- Alprostadil. This medication comes as a pellet that’s inserted into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). Alprostadil increases blood flow to the penis, enabling an erection.
- Testosterone replacement therapy. This is only recommended if you have low testosterone levels. Testosterone therapy won’t improve sexual desire.
- Penile implants. This treatment involves surgically placing devices (usually two cylinders) inside