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Birla Fertility & IVF
Birla Fertility & IVF

Erectile dysfunction: Causes & Symptoms, Treatment

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What is erectile dysfunction?

It is a condition where the male is unable to keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Usually, erectile dysfunction is a symptom of an underlying problem related to sexual intercourse, like lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation and orgasm.

What are the symptoms of erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction symptoms include:

  • Problem keeping an erection
  • Problem getting an erection
  • Less sexual desire

What are the causes of erectile dysfunction?

There are both types of physical and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction including

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Use of tobacco
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Sleep disorders
  • Prostate cancer treatment
  • Low testosterone
  • Surgeries that affect the spinal cord or the pelvic area
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

How is erectile dysfunction (ED) diagnosed?

Because there are a variety of causes of erectile dysfunction, there are several different tests that your doctor can use to diagnose the condition and determine its cause. Only after determining the cause of erectile dysfunction can it be treated effectively.

After your physical exam and interview, your doctor may order any of the following tests to better diagnose your condition:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver and kidney function tests
  • Lipid (fats) profile test
  • Thyroid function test
  • Blood hormone studies
  • Urinalysis
  • Duplex ultrasound
  • Bulbocavernosus reflex
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)
  • Penile biothesiometry
  • Vasoactive injection
  • Dynamic infusion cavernosometry
  • Cavernosography
  • Arteriography

How common is erectile dysfunction?

About one in 10 men suffers from long-term erectile dysfunction. Many men fail to get an erection from time to time, which can happen for a variety of reasons, such as excessive alcohol consumption, stress, relationship problems, or extreme fatigue.

Inability to achieve an erection less than 20% of the time is not uncommon and does not usually require treatment. However, if you are unable to get an erection more than 50% of the time, it usually means there is a problem and treatment is needed.

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to be a part of ageing. While it’s true that some older men need more stimulation, they should still be able to get an erection and enjoy sexual intercourse.

How is erectile dysfunction treated?

There are several options for erectile dysfunction, including

  • Oral medications
  • Penile injections
  • Vacuum devices
  • Sex therapy
  • Surgery (penile implant)
  • Intraurethral medication

Discuss your options with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

The first step in treating erectile dysfunction is to find the underlying cause. Then the appropriate treatment can begin. Several surgical and non-surgical options can help a man regain normal sexual function.

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