Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical term that describes the inability to achieve and or maintain an erect penis adequate for sexual function. This condition is one of the most common sexual problems for men and increases with age. It is estimated between 15 to 30 million American men suffer from ED, although not all men are equally distressed by the problem.
Most men have difficulty with erections from time to time, yet in some men, it is a regular and more severe problem. It can cause low self-esteem, performance anxiety, depression and stress. ED may affect the quality of a marriage or intimate relationships. However, there are many safe and effective ED treatments available.
When a man is not sexually aroused, his penis is soft, limp or flaccid. During sexual arousal, nerve messages release chemicals that increase blood flow into the penis. The blood flows into two erection chambers made of spongy tissue (the corpus cavernosum) in the penis. The “smooth muscle” in the erection chambers relaxes, which allows blood to enter and remain in the chambers. The pressure of the blood in the chambers makes the penis firm, producing an erection. After a man has an orgasm, the blood flows out of the chambers and the erection subsides.
Please visit your doctor, who will check your overall health and physical condition. They will look for signs of problems with your circulatory, nervous and endocrine system. This includes checking your blood pressure, penis and testicles and you may need to have a rectal exam to check the prostate. These tests are not painful and may provide valuable information about the cause of ED. Most patients do not require extensive testing before beginning treatment.
The choice of testing and treatment depends on the goals of the individual. If erection returns with simple treatment like oral medication and the patient is satisfied, no further diagnosis and treatment are necessary. If the initial treatment response is inadequate or the patient is not satisfied, then further steps may be taken. In general, as more invasive treatment options are chosen, testing may become more complex.
These Q&A’s are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.