In erectile dysfunction, an individual is unable to develop or maintain an erection during sex. This disorder is also called impotence and, like other sexual dysfunction. This condition becomes more common with age. Sex can be important within relationships, so erectile dysfunction often carries with it emotional and psychological stigma in both males and females. Sexual activity involves a sequence of events called the sexual response cycle. This cycle has four phases, excitement plateau, orgasm and resolution during the excitement, phase, muscle tension, heart rate and blood flow to the genitals increases in males. This is called an erection when these reach the maxim level. It’s called the plateau phase. Next, the accumulated sexual tension gets released during orgasm, causing ejaculation in males immediately after orgasm comes the resolution phase where the body slowly returns to its original unexcited state all right. Let’s take a closer look at the penis, which is made of three long cylindrical bodies, the corpus spongios that surrounds the penile urethra and the two corpora cavernosa made of erectile tissue. The corpora cavernosa are wrapped in a fibrous coat called the tunica albuginea and each corpus cavernos is made up of blood-filled spaces called the cavernosal spaces. These areas are lined with endothelial cells, surrounded by smooth muscle running down the center of each corpus. Cavernos is a large artery called the deep artery which gives off smaller arteries that supply the cavernosal spaces. Next blood gets drained from these spaces by small emissary veins, which drain into the deep dorsal vein. This vein then carries the blood back into the systemic circulation. Now the penis receives both somatic and autonomic innervation through the cavernous nerves, which innervate both the corpus spongios and the corpora cavernosa. You can remember the functions of these fibers with the mnemonic point and shoot point is the erection and it’s caused by p or parasympathetic. Fibers shoot is ejaculation and the s stands for sympathetic. Now, an erection can happen in two ways: either by physical stimulation of the penis or genitals called a reflex erection or by becoming emotionally stimulated by a thought, called psychogenic erection. In both cases, the parasympathetic nerve fibers in the cavernosal spaces, release acetylcholine from their nerve. Endings the acetylcholine bind to muscarinic receptors on endothelial cells, which activates the enzyme, nitric oxide, synthase, nitric oxide synthase converts the amino acid arginine into citrulline and nitric oxide, the nitric oxide diffuses into the nearby smooth muscle cells and activates guanolith cyclase, which converts gtp molecules into cgmp. This leads to a fall in intracellular calci levels, causing the smooth muscles to relax and allowing the cavernosa spaces to expand and fill with blood. The corpora cavernosa grow in size and compress the veins making it harder for blood to leave with more blood coming in, but very little blood leaving the penis can maintain. An erection dysfunction, leads to an inability to develop and maintain a full erection. This can happen because of psychological factors like stress performance, anxiety and depression. Organic causes can be divided depending on which step in the erection is impaired. For example, vascular causes lead to inadequate blood supply and the most common vascular cause of erectile dysfunction is an inadequate blood supply due to atherosclerosis and blood vessel damage from hypertension. Atherosclerosis is caused by the buildup of atheromatous plaques that can harden the arteries supplying the penis, which makes it difficult for them to dilate hypertension, causes, wear and tear in the endothelial cells and decreases their ability to produce nitric oxide. Another vascular condition that can damage the arteries is diabetes. Mellitus high glucose levels can cause hyaline arterial sclerosis in the small arterials in the penis. This is where the arterial walls develop hyaline deposits, which makes it harder for them to dilate. It also builds up in the capillaries, causing the basement membrane to thicken, which makes it harder for oxygen to efficiently move from the vascular space to the tissues causing hypoxia and death of the smooth muscle cells. Hypoxia also causes the parasympathetic nerve fibers to die off and damaged parasympathetic nerve. Fibers can’t release acetylcholine, so there’s less nitric oxide, synthase activation and less nitric oxide is produced. Leading cause of erectile dysfunction is surgery either on central nervous system structures like the brain and spinal cord or on the genital structures themselves, like with prostate surgery. Also, conditions like stroke, multiple sclerosis and back or pelvic trauma can directly damage the nerves leading to erectile dysfunction. Next, endocrine dysfunctions that cause testosterone levels to fall like hypogonadism, can also cause erectile dysfunction. This happens because low testosterone levels are associated with lower levels of nitric oxide synthase, which causes less nitric oxide to be produced and therefore less smooth muscle relaxation. Since testosterone production decreases with age, it’s normal for erections to become more difficult to achieve and maintain later in life. Finally, many medications can cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. These include diuretics because they leave less fluid in your circulation, making it difficult to achieve an erection and medications like antidepressants and methadone, but those mechanisms aren’t as well understood, there’s no specific test to diagnose erectile dysfunction, so the diagnosis largely relies on the sexual experiences of the individual, careful questioning of psychological stressors, as well as blood tests to check for testosterone and glucose levels, a neurological assessment and duplex ultrasound to evaluate blood flow and arthrosclerosis can be done to investigate the cause of erectile dysfunction. Treatment of erectile dysfunction largely focuses on addressing the underlying cause. In terms of medications, pde5 inhibitors, like sildenafil, can be used. These medications inhibit the pde5 enzyme and endothelial cells, which normally breaks down cgmp, leading to higher levels of cgmp. That allows for more smooth muscle relaxation, which facilitates an erection. Sometimes vacu erection devices can be used. These devices apply negative pressure around the penis, which can help draw in blood to achieve the erection. Finally, surgical procedures like prosthetic implants can be embedded into the penis. They don’t cause the erection, but they could help keep the penis rigid. Alright, as a quick recap, erectile dysfunction is the inability to develop or maintain an erection and it could have psychological or organic causes. Organic causes can be due to cardiovascular disorders like hypertension, neurological problems like those caused by diabetes or hormonal dysfunction, where testosterone levels decrease. Various medications, like diuretics, can also cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. There’s no specific test to diagnose erectile dysfunction, so diagnosis is typically geared at detecting pre-existing causes. Treatment includes pde5 inhibitors, like sildenafil vacu, erection devices and surgery.