There seems to be a general reluctance for men to visit a doctor. While that is a reason of concern, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) shouldn’t be. It is actually relatively easy to treat, and in most cases medication is all that is needed.

Certainly ED should not be ignored in the hope that it goes away. It should be considered as an early warning to check overall health. Often ED can be the result of underlying health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure and blocked arteries so it is always recommended to check for these conditions first.

Erectile Dysfunction infographic

ED can also be caused by Diabetes, High cholesterol, Depression, Obesity and nerve damage. Other conditions that may cause ED include cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses can impair blood flow or nerve impulses throughout the body.

Who is suffering with Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction becomes more common as men age. The percentage of complete ED increases from 5% to 15% as age increases from 40 to 70 years.

ED in older men

Because erections primarily involve the blood vessels, it is not surprising that the most common causes in older men are conditions that block blood flow to the penis, such as atherosclerosis or diabetes.

Another vascular cause may be a faulty vein, that lets blood drain too quickly from the penis. Other physical disorders, as well as hormonal imbalances and certain operations, can also result in erectile dysfunction.

ED in younger men

With younger men, psychological problems are the likeliest reason for erectile dysfunction. Tension and anxiety may arise from poor communication with the sexual partner or a difference in sexual preferences. The sexual difficulties may also be linked to the following factors:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Personal sexual fears
  • Rejection by parents or peers
  • Sexual abuse in childhood

ED can be treated at any age. Also, ED may be more common in Hispanic men and in those with a history of diabetes, obesity, smoking, and hypertension. Research shows that African-American men sought medical care for ED twice the rate of other racial groups.

ED in younger men

Oral Medications

Oral ED medication is considered highly effective and studies show it works in the majority of men. You’ve probably heard of Viagra, but it’s not the only pill for ED. This class of drugs also includes Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Stendra. All work by improving blood flow to the penis during arousal.

Viagra medication

They're generally taken 30-60 minutes before sexual activity and should not be used more than once a day. Cialis can be taken up to 36 hours before sexual activity and also comes in a lower, daily dose. Staxyn dissolves in the mouth. All require an OK from your doctor first for safety.

Medicine such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra) is often used by doctors to treat erectile dysfunction. It is also available from chemists.

There are other similar medicines called Tadalafil (Cialis), Vardenafil (Levitra) and Avanafil (Spedra) that work in a similar way. You will still need a prescription to get these medicines.

The most common generally available are PDE-5 inhibitors in the form of:

Viagra
Cialis
Levitra

Viagra’s approved prescribing information claim that “82% of patients reported an improvement in their erections.” Other PDE-5 inhibitors (Cialis, Levitra) showed similar results.

Important

Never buy off-prescription Viagra tablets online. Always ensure that the online pharmacy requires a valid prescription and that all orders are dispensed by a licensed pharmacy.

Other treatment options

While oral ED medications are very effective, they don’t work for everyone. Fortunately there are other treatment options to consider. Many men with ED are able to improve sexual function by making a few lifestyle changes. Improving general health, like quitting smoking, taking more exercise to help improve blood flow, watching what you eat and drink, and getting more sleep can help improve ED.

Alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction

Can stress affect Erectile Dysfunction?

When you're stressed out from work, relationship problems, or a major life change, your libido can take a hit. And if you end up with ED, you may find it leads to even more anxiety. Cut down your stress levels, and you'll see benefits in the bedroom.

Possible Causes of Erectile Dysfunction:

Physical or Psychological

ED usually has something physical behind it, particularly in older men. But psychological factors can be a factor. Experts say stress, depression, poor self-esteem, and performance anxiety can lead to ED. These factors can also make the problem worse in men whose ED stems from something physical.

Anxiety can lead to ED

Can drugs cause Erectile Dysfunction?

ED may be a side effect of medication, including certain blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, and tranquilizers. Men should talk with their doctor if they suspect a prescription or over-the-counter drug may be causing erectile problems. Never stop any medicine without first consulting your doctor.

The nervous system

The vascular processes that produce an erection are controlled by the nervous system and certain prescription medications may have the side effect of interfering with necessary nerve signals.

Among the possible culprits are a variety of stimulants, sedatives, diuretics, antihistamines and drugs to treat high blood pressure, cancer or depression. But never stop a medication unless your doctor tells you to. In addition, alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, such as marijuana, may contribute to the dysfunction.

ED and cyclists

Research suggests avid cyclists suffer more ED than other athletes. The trouble lies in the shape of some bicycle seats that put pressure on the area between the anus and scrotum (perineum) that contains arteries and nerves vital to sexual arousal.

Cyclists suffer more ED

Side effects of surgery

Surgery, including treatments for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, or enlarged prostate can sometimes damage nerves and blood vessels near the penis. In some cases, the nerve damage is permanent, and the patient will require treatment to achieve an erection. In others, surgery causes temporary ED that gradually improves over time.

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction

Several lab tests can help diagnose male sexual problems. Measuring testosterone levels can determine whether there is a hormonal imbalance, which is often linked to decreased desire. Blood cell counts, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and liver function tests can reveal medical conditions that may account for ED.

Researchers say all men diagnosed with ED should be evaluated for cardiovascular disease. This does not mean every man with ED will develop heart disease, or that every man with heart disease has ED, but patients should be aware of the link.

Treating Erectile Dysfunction with Surgery

If ED is caused by a blockage in an artery leading to the penis, surgery can often restore blood flow. Good candidates are typically younger men whose blockage stems from an injury to the crotch or pelvis. The procedure is not recommended for older men with widespread narrowing of the arteries.

Be Proactive

It's not unusual to have trouble getting an erection once in a while, but if it starts happening more often, don't ignore it. Talk to your doctor. You might have a health problem that's causing it. The sooner you deal with it, the sooner your sex life will be back on track.

Viagra online

It's possible to buy Viagra over the internet, but many sites sell counterfeit medicines. The active ingredients in them can vary, causing side effects.

So always check on the website you're using that all medications are dispensed by a licensed pharmacy. Medix Pharmacy is a licensed UK pharmacy that dispensed medications from the United Kingdom and also through its international pharmacy partners.

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Sources:
The new England Journal of Medicine, (Irwin Goldstein M.D). 

Webmd.com 
National Health Service