Erectile dysfunction is defined as:
a condition where it is not possible to satisfactorily function sexually, either in having sexual intercourse and or having satisfying and enjoyable sexual intercourse.
Sometimes the term “no erection” is used when meaning “erectile dysfunction.”
The reasons for erectile dysfunction may be physical (such as problems with the blood vessels in the pelvis and in the penis itself) or psychological (performance anxiety, mental stress).
How common is erectile dysfunction?
From the beginning of time, men have suffered from erectile dysfunction, and for many years there has been satisfactory treatment for this phenomenon. The frequency of this frustrating phenomenon increases with age and is very common.
Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are estimated as suffering from a certain degree of erectile dysfunction, and in the USA, this is around 40 million men. Surveys carried out in England and France found that 30-40% of men suffer from a moderate to complete absence of an erection.
The rule of thumb which supports these numerous research studies, is that the chance that a man will suffer from some degree of erectile absence is equal as a percentage to his age. For example, the chance that a 55 year old man will suffer from erectile dysfunction is around 55%, 70% at age 70, and so on.
Among patients with different chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes and many other diseases, the estimates for sexual dysfunction are much higher, sometimes double. For example, in general it is possible to say that there is no man or woman who has suffered with diabetes for 10 years that is not suffering from problems of sexual function.
How many men seek treatment?
Given these data, it is surprising to discover that public awareness of the problem is so poor. Not only is the public unaware of the potential to treat most cases of erectile dysfunction, but even the doctors are unaware of the investigative and modern treatment options. Pills like Viagra and those similar to it allow for excellent treatment, but they are not the only treatment tool. We will deal with the reasons for small number of referrals for treatment in another part of the site.
What causes erectile dysfunction? How can it be prevented and improved?
Experts estimate that up to 80% of all cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by organic physical problems, with the remaining 20% being related to psychological factors. That said, in many cases, it is a combination of both factors. We will detail the central risk factors which cause erectile dysfunction.
Risk factors causing erectile dysfunction
Vascular disease: arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is caused by smoking, genetic factors and high levels of cholesterol which damage blood flow to the penis, thereby damaging the potential for an erection. Vascular disease is the most common physical cause of erectile dysfunction. That is to say, they are the same risk factors for vascular damage and factors for ischemic heart disease and CVA (stroke).
Diabetes: this chronic disease can cause nerve damage and damage to the blood vessels which supply blood to the penis. Two out of every three men who have diabetes are likely to develop erectile dysfunction relatively early.
Neurological diseases: neurological diseases, including an injury to the spinal cord, multiple sclerosis and others.
Hormonal problems: low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone are likely to cause erectile dysfunction.
Cancer treatment: surgery to treat colon, anal and prostate cancer, as well as radiation treatment the pelvic region, can damage the nerves and blood vessels and thereby cause erectile dysfunction.
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Injuries to the pelvis
Chronic medical conditions: if you suffer from a chronic illness, ask your doctor if it is likely to impact your sexual health.
Side effects of medicines: many prescription and non-prescription medicines can damage the potential for an erection as a side effect. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction after you started to take a new medicine, ask your doctor about the potential side effects of the medicine, alternatives and possible solutions.
The prominent medicinal groups that damage the potential for an erection are the medicines which treat hypertension, depression and mental illness.
Factors connected with lifestyle
Alcohol: drinking a large amount of alcohol can cause an immediate reduction in your ability to achieve a strong erection. Drinking a large amount of alcohol over an extended period of time can cause damage to the nerves and liver, as well as a hormonal imbalance.
An inactive lifestyle: a lack of physical activity can cause erectile dysfunction.
Smoking: one of the more frequent causes of erectile dysfunction. Stopping smoking improves erection both in the short and long term.
These factors may appear alone or combined with one or more of the physical factors for erectile dysfunction.
Performance anxiety: when a man is anxious about his sexual performance, it can affect his erection.
Mental stress: stress can affect sexual function.
Relationship problems: tensions with the partner regarding sexual subjects or other general subjects or those related to the family etc, can have a negative impact on sexual function.