Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is a common issue that many people struggle with, yet there is the causes and treatments can vary widely. Although erectile dysfunction for many is temporary and resolves itself, it can be a long-term issue that prevents you from having sex, affects mental health and causes relationship troubles.
Weldricks Pharmacy outlines the symptoms, different potential causes and treatments of erectile dysfunction, so you can find the best course of action for you.
What is erectile dysfunction (impotence)?
Erectile dysfunction, otherwise known as impotence, is the inability to have and maintain an erection. It, therefore, prevents the person from being able to have sex, which long term can lead to increased stress and potentially cause issues in relationships.
It’s important to understand, however, that erectile dysfunction is common, particularly in older men over the age of 40, and isn’t always a symptom of a more serious condition. If you experience erectile dysfunction for a short period of time, it is likely not cause for concern. However, if it is regular and starts to affect your mental health or relationships, you can seek advice from your GP to help identify the cause and potential treatments.
What are the symptoms of erectile dysfunction?
- Problems getting an erection
- Problems maintaining an erection
- Reduced sexual libido
What is the cause of erectile dysfunction?
For someone to get an erection, they must generally be sexually aroused, which leads to increased blood flow to the penis. Sexual arousal is a highly complex process involving various different areas of the body including the brain, nervous system, muscles, blood vessels, hormones and even emotions, which makes identifying the cause of erectile dysfunction difficult as it can be due to a problem with any one of these functions.
For example, erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying physical condition, which when treated, also indirectly treats your erectile dysfunction. It can also be a symptom of underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. Or, it can be a combination of both physical and mental issues, that work together to result in or prolong your erectile dysfunction.
Some physical underlying health conditions or medications that can be the cause of erectile dysfunction include but are not limited to:
- Type 2 diabetes. Men with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Blocked blood vessels/atherosclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep disorders
- Cancer treatments for prostate cancer
- Enlarged prostate treatments
- Certain prescription medications. Certain medications can have erectile dysfunction as a side effect, including antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, antiandrogens, tranquilisers or sedatives, ulcer medicines and appetite suppressants.
- Injuries or surgery around the area
While a large part of the process of having an erection is physical, it is kickstarted by the brain and initial sexual arousal. As a result, if you are suffering from certain mental health conditions, this can prevent or reduce sexual desire and be a cause of erectile dysfunction.
Mental health conditions that can be a cause include but are not limited to:
- Relationship issues
What is the best erectile dysfunction treatment?
There is no one solution for treating erectile dysfunction, due to the many different types of mental and physical causes that can be responsible. It’s important to always seek medical advice and a diagnosis from your GP or pharmacist if you have concerns about impotence before attempting to treat the condition yourself.
Despite this, there are some ways and treatments that have been shown to help prevent and reduce erectile dysfunction. We discuss these below.
Visit your GP or a sexual health clinic
It’s important to always seek professional advice and diagnosis from your GP or a sexual health clinic, who will then provide you with the best treatment and be able to prescribe the correct medication if needed.
A professional will be able to help you address the specific cause, whether this is physical or psychological, and manage this. For example, you may need treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure, or another disease that, once addressed and treated effectively, will also treat your erectile dysfunction.
Times you should visit your GP or a sexual health clinic for erectile dysfunction include are if:
- You have been experiencing erectile dysfunction for more than a few weeks
- Your symptoms are causing you severe concern and stress
- You are experiencing other sexual problems alongside impotence including premature or delayed ejaculation
- You have any other symptoms alongside impotence
What can you expect at an appointment about erectile dysfunction?
There are various things to expect at an appointment for erectile dysfunction:
- A doctor or nurse will ask about your daily lifestyle and relationships, at which point you can choose whether to discuss any problems you are facing
- They will carry out some basic health checks as normal at a doctor's appointment including taking your blood pressure
- They are likely to examine your genital area to identify any potential physical causes or problems
- If needed and you are struggling with urinating too, they may also carry out a rectal examination for your prostate
Medication for erectile dysfunction
If you are given a diagnosis for erectile dysfunction, you may be prescribed medication to treat this. The main types of medication prescribed or recommended for this condition are called PDE-5 inhibitors, which increase the blood flow to the penis and help you to get and keep an erection.
Some of these include:
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
- Vardenafil (Levitra)
- Avanafil (Spedra)
Viagra is the most widely known and used medication to treat erectile dysfunction, as it can either be prescribed or bought from a pharmacy. Weldricks Pharmacy stocks a range of Viagra medications, browse our products below:
Another treatment option and an alternative to taking medication is a vacuum pump, a mechanism which increases blood flow to the penis and causes an erection. These can sometimes be prescribed by the NHS however you can also buy these yourself.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
A common physical cause of erectile dysfunction is atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries, usually caused by being overweight or obese. To treat this, your doctor or nurse is likely to recommend that you try to lose or manage your weight by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet. Not only will a healthy lifestyle help to widen your arteries and improve erectile function, but it will also improve your overall health mentally and physically, and reduces your risk of heart disease.
Some ways that you can try to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and treat erectile dysfunction, include:
- Sticking to a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercising regularly. It’s important to note that cycling in particular can be a cause of erectile dysfunction so don’t cycle for more than three hours per week.
- Reduce alcohol consumption, if you drink over 14 units a week usually.
- Quit smoking
If your erectile dysfunction is a result of mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression, talking therapy such as counselling or therapy can also be effective. You can join a waiting list to receive counselling via the NHS, or you can invest in private sex therapy.
Shop erectile dysfunction treatments with Weldricks Pharmacy
Sexual wellbeing is hugely important for overall health and bodily function, which is why Weldricks Pharmacy stock a range of products to manage the symptoms of and treat erectile dysfunction, including viagra tablets and other sexual enhancement products to help you improve your sex life.