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FAQ – Overview of Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the persistent inability to attain and maintain an erection sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual intercourse. Although occasional dysfunction is not uncommon, complete ED occurs in only about 2% of men. ED is more common as men age, but it is not an inevitable consequence of aging. It is estimated that about 35% of men 40 years of age and 65% of men 70 years of age experience some degree of ED.
The cause of ED may be psychological, physical, or a combination of both. The most common physical causes are vascular disease and diabetes. Other physical causes include neurologic problems (such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury), endocrine problems (such as low testosterone levels), and drug side effects. Psychological causes include anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.
Vascular disease is the most common cause of ED. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can all lead to vascular problems that restrict blood flow to the penis. In addition, injury to the arteries or veins that supply blood to the penis can result in ED.
Neurologic problems can also cause ED. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injuries can all result in nerve damage that interferes with the ability to get and maintain an erection.
Endocrine problems can also cause ED. Low levels of testosterone can lead to ED, even in men who do not have other medical problems. Other hormone problems can also result in ED, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.
Certain medications can also cause ED. These include drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. In addition, some illegal drugs, such as marijuana, can also cause ED.
Anxiety and relationship problems are the most common psychological causes of ED. Performance anxiety (fear of failure to attain or maintain an erection) can result in ED. Relationship problems can also cause ED, such as lack of communication, conflict, or a lack of intimacy.
ED can also be caused by a combination of physical and psychological problems. In some cases, a man may have ED because of a physical problem but may also be anxious about sexual performance. In other cases, a man may have a psychological problem that leads to ED, such as depression or anxiety.
ED is treated with a variety of methods. The most common treatment is oral medication. These drugs include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). Other treatments include penile injections, vacuum devices, surgery, and psychological counseling.
Sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil are oral medications used to treat ED. These drugs are known as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. They work by relaxing the muscles and increasing blood flow to the penis. Sildenafil is the most widely used of these drugs, and is available in a generic form. Tadalafil and vardenafil are also available in a generic form.
Penile injections are another treatment for ED. These injections are done with a needle into the base of the penis. They are usually done in the doctor’s office. The medication used is alprostadil (Caverject, Edex, Muse).
Vacuum devices are also used to treat ED. These devices are simple to use and work by creating a vacuum around the penis. The vacuum draws blood into the penis, which helps to maintain an erection. The devices are safe and effective, but