Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is described as the inability to attain and or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity.
Erectile dysfunction is very common and at least one in ten men will have erectile difficulties for a variety of reasons and at different ages.
The Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile Dysfunction can be an early warning sign about your general health, giving you the opportunity to identify a possible problem and take action before the symptoms get worse.
Physical causes can be:
- Heart disease
- Prostate / lower urinary tract problems
- Pelvic surgery (Prostatectomy, Colorectal Surgery.)
- Injury to the spinal cord or pelvis
Lifestyle causes can be:
- Recreational drugs
Psychological causes can be:
- Lack of self confidence
- Life stress
- Relationship problems
Vascular disease usually means that not enough blood enters the penis, or it does not stay within the penis to maintain an erection. This can be as a result of smoking, heart disease, diabetes or high cholesterol.
A significant part of our sexual function is controlled by centres in the brain. Therefore, neurological problems such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis (MS) or surgery can mean that the messages from the brain conveyed to the penis do not produce a normal outcome.
Hormonal levels are associated with erectile dysfunction, a low level of testosterone can lead to ED and issues with sexual desire.
Some medication can have the side effect of interrupting your erection, especially drugs used in anti-hypertension antipsychotics or anti depressants.
Psychological factors such as stress at work, financial stress, concerns within the relationship and lack of confidence can interrupt erectile function.
Diabetes is now an increasingly common disease presentation and an increasing cause for ED, with over 50% of diabetic men being affected.
The use of recreational drugs and excessive alcohol abuse can lead to long term ED and also disorders of ejaculation or arousal.
Other recreational drugs are known to cause erectile dysfunction. These include cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and anabolic steroids.