Erectile dysfunction, which is also known as ED, is the most common sexual issue that men report to their physicians. ED currently affects up to 30 million men and is defined as trouble getting or maintain an erection that is suitable for sex. While men can have some issues with getting an erection from time to time, erectile dysfunction is a progressive condition or something that happens routinely in sexual situations and may require medical treatment.
ED can occur when the blood flow to the penis is limited or the nerves in the penis are damaged. Emotional issues and stress can also lead to erectile dysfunction. In some cases, ED is an early indication of a serious such as atherosclerosis, which is the hardening or blocking of the arteries. ED can also be a sign of high blood pressure, heart disease or high blood sugar levels from diabetes. Once a man finds the causes for his ED, he’ll have the right tools to treat the issue and improve his overall wellbeing. In general, whatever is good for a man’s heart health will also be beneficial for his sexual health.
To truly understand erectile dysfunction, it’s important to understand how erections work. During sexual arousal, the nerves release chemicals that boost blood circulation to the penis. Blood flows into the penis’ two erection chambers, which are made of muscle tissue that has a spongy consistency. When an erection occurs, the tissues relax and store blood. The pressure of the blood in these chambers causes the penis to become firm, which causes an erection. When a man orgasms, another set of signals in the nerves reach the penis and make the muscles in the penis contract so the blood is released back onto the man’s blood circulation, which makes the erection come down. When a man is not sexually aroused, the penis is limp and soft. Men will often notice that the size of the penis can vary depending on temperature or stress; this is normal and is indicative of the blood that comes in and out of the penis.
When a man finds that it’s difficult to keep an erection or maintain one, this could be a sign of erectile dysfunction and it may be time to visit a urologist. In addition to ED being a sign of other health problems, ED can also lead to low self-esteem and depression in men. Erectile dysfunction can also lead to relationship and intimacy issues and may lower a man’s sex drive.
There are several risk factors that can indicate ED, so it’s best for men to look out for these factors to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. Men over the age of 50 are more likely to develop ED, and men should also try to keep their blood pressure at healthy levels, especially if they have a history of hypertension. High cholesterol can also lead to ED, which is why eating a diet that is high in fiber and unsaturated fats is ideal. Men should also work to stay in a healthy weight range and reduce unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking to reduce the chances of developing ED.