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Erection Problems

Understanding erectile dysfunction and available treatments

13258564_xxlFifteen years ago, no man would be caught uttering the word impotence. If they do, it is done in the privacy of the doctor’s clinic. These days, erectile dysfunction (a.k.a. impotence) is pretty much discussed in the open, as much as the next common condition that afflicts men.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition when a man can no longer get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse, is a man’s worst nightmare. It affects not only a man’s self-esteem, but also his relationships. It can also cause stress and anxiety. Erection problems can happen to any man from time to time, but if it becomes a persistent problem, then it is time to see your doctor for an evaluation, as ED can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. The only way to find out for sure is by seeing your doctor.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are both physical causes and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction. Physical causes are a long list of other medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, metabolic syndrome, low testosterone, tobacco and alcohol use, etc. – underlying medical conditions causing the erection problem, which when treated also treats the ED. The psychological causes, on the other hand, are depression, anxiety, other mental health conditions, or stress and relationship problems. In addition, as men get older, it takes more time for them to get a full erection. Although age is not a direct risk factor, older men most often have other medical conditions that may contribute to ED. When erection problems become persistent, it is definitely time to see your doctor. Diagnosis of ED involves physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, ultrasound, overnight erection test and psychological exam. If, despite treatment of other underlying conditions that might be causing the erection problem and ED still persists, then it is time to explore with your doctor the possible ED treatments that will work for you.

Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Oral medications have been found effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Currently, there are three FDA-approved drugs available in the market: Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis) and Vardenafil (Levitra). All three drugs, which are given with prescription, are available in Singapore. These drugs enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. Thus, blood flow is increased, allowing men to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation. Any man suffering from ED must work closely with his doctor in order to determine which drug and what dosage will work best for you. If you are taking nitrate drugs, blood thinners (anti-coagulants), have heart disease or heart failure, have had stroke, have low or high blood pressure, and have uncontrolled diabetes, then you cannot be on ED oral medication.

Maybe less popular, there are other treatments used for ED – alprostadil self-injection, alprostadil penis suppository and testosterone replacement. Alprostadil self-injection and penis suppository are self-applied before sexual intercourse. The erection starts within 10 minutes of application and can last from 30 to 60 minutes. These methods are often received with qualms, because you have to apply the injection or suppository on the penis yourself. A prostaglandin, alprostadil is a type of medicine that causes blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow throughout the body. By increasing blood flow to the penis, alprostadil helps to facilitate an erection. In injection-form, alprostadil is sold under the brand names Caverject, Edex, and Prostin VR, while the suppository-form of alprostadil is sold under the brand name MUSE (Medicated Urethral System for Erection). However, the injection form has been found more effective in promoting erection, compared to the suppository. Alprostadil must be taken with caution and should be applied properly. Otherwise, permanent damage to the penis can occur.

2854228_xxlTestosterone replacement is a therapy used on men with ED caused by low testosterone levels. The natural decline of testosterone in men starts at age 30, and continues throughout life. Low testosterone levels also cause other physical changes in men, such as decrease in muscle mass, fragile bones (osteoporosis), decrease in body hair, etc.

More radical approaches to the treatment of ED include penile pumps, penile implants and blood vessel surgery – all of which require surgery to promote erection. According to ED experts, one-third of men suffering from ED does not respond to medication, or cannot be treated with medication – this is where penile pumps and implants come in as a treatment option. Like any surgery of this kind, it comes with a risk of infection and mechanical failure.

Lifestyle Changes Help

While some of the treatments mentioned are rather for extreme cases of ED, or in the event that oral medication isn’t suitable, there are cases that psychological counselling and lifestyle adjustments could fix. Men should not ignore stress, anxiety and other mental health problems. Lifestyle adjustments such as quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, losing weight (if overweight), getting treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, and working through relationship problems, are advised of men suffering from erection problems. Also, it helps men a lot if their wives or partners are involved in their ordeal of ED. Most importantly, refrain from buying ED treatments or supplements that are given without prescription or those available on the Internet (i.e. herbal viagra). These drugs and supplements usually contain ingredients not listed on the label that pose more harm than good. If suffering from erection problems, it is best to discuss your condition with your doctor in order to get a proper diagnosis and to determine the suitable treatment for you.

References and Further Reading: Mayo Clinic WebMD NIH
Posted by ezyhealth on Jul 3 2013. Filed under Medical Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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