According to the Mayo Clinic, erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is defined as a man’s inability to form an erection or keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. For many men, erectile dysfunction is a temporary condition brought on by stress or personal issues; however, for others, it’s a serious medical issue that puts a damper on their sex lives and destroys their self-confidence.
What are the causes? Many men suffering from this condition are quick to place the blame on prescription medication or medical conditions versus certain mental or emotional issues, but according to Psychiatrist Greg Gass MD, erectile dysfunction can often be a combination of several issues.
While Gass agrees that medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, low testosterone levels and even obesity can play a part in this condition, he said that for many men, the issue is far more phsychological than physical. Gass said that in many cases, men will have a temporary bout of ED due to stress or other factors, but then psych themselves out going forward when the time comes for intercourse, resulting in a loss of the erection.
While age isn’t always a factor, David Dragoo, medical expert and MD at Money Crashers, said that as a man approaches 50 years of age, his chances of developing ED does increase. Dragoo also mentioned that while recent studies have tied the condition back to certain ethnicities, generally speaking, age and physical condition are much more common factors.
What are the physical/psychological side effects? Medically speaking, Dragoo said that erectile dysfunction does not cause any physical issues for men. However, the psychological issues that it is responsible for are quite damaging. Dragoo said in addition to not being able to maintain a satisfying sex life, most men with ED also suffer from low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, personal embarrassment and damaged personal relationships.
How does ED affect the partner? Partners living with a man who is suffering from ED also suffer some psychological issues. These issues include feeling rejected, blaming themselves for being the cause of the issue, feeling they are no longer attractive to their partner and other general issues with intimacy. With both partners experiencing so much personal turmoil, communication often breaks down sometimes leading to more serious issues in the relationship.
What are the treatment options? There are several treatment options for erectile dysfnction. For many men, a combination of certain treatments may be in order or they may have to experienmt with some trial and error before finding what works best for them. According to Anthony Saracino, MD, FACS, and diplomat at the American Board of Urology, the most common treatments include:
- Pills (such as Viagra)
- Testosterone injections
- Penile vacuum devices and constriction rings
- Penile implants
While all of these treatments can be effective, Saracino said that Viagra is one of the most effective treatments, and is one that is safe for long-term, regular use for most men.
What about psychological treatment? Again, the psychological effects of ED can often play an even greater role than the physical ones. For effective recovery, Saracino suggest couple’s therapy. He added that having the partner accompany the male to the doctor’s visit(s) can also help to alleviate stress allowing for Q&A with the doctor, and relieving guilt and concerns that the partner might have.
Erectile dysfunction is a difficult condition to manage and can wreak havoc on both the sufferer’s confidence levels as well as his partner’s. If the man in your life is showing symptoms of ED, visit your physician right away for diagnosis and treatment options.
For more articles related to this, check out some of our previous sex series stories including; The Sex Diet: Is it Real?, Spice Up Your Sex Life With a Little Side of Tantra, and Red Flags of Sexual Addiction.