Men's Health information
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. There are many causes of erectile dysfunction, from physical issues to psychological conditions, as well as combinations of the two. Understanding the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction can often help lead to treatment or cures.
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction can be varied and complex. Sometimes, simple stress over work, school, money, or other unrelated issues can make it all but impossible for a man to get or sustain an erection. Anxiety, too, can play a major part in ED, especially if the man involved is afraid of being seen as insufficient or a failure if he cannot sexually perform. Previous incidences of ED may increase anxiety, causing the condition to recur. Depression and low self-esteem are also seen as common psychological factors that may be causes of erectile dysfunction.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction tend to be related to a breakdown in the nerves, muscles, or veins that contribute to erectile ability. Nerve damage, such as that caused by injury, neurological diseases, or even diabetes is believed to be a major contributing cause to instances of ED. Men with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions that affect the behavior and function of blood vessels may also be more likely to experience ED on a regular basis. Kidney disease is also linked to the occurrence of ED.
In some cases, it is not illness but treatments for medical conditions that can be causes of erectile dysfunction. ED is often associated with prostate cancer, largely because surgery and treatments meant to cure this type of cancer can impede erectile function. Drugs that alter hormones, as well as many types of prescription medication, may also cause ED.
Some lifestyle factors are believed to contribute to the occurrence of ED. Heavy use of drugs or alcohol may inhibit erections in acute situations, but chronic drug, alcohol, and tobacco use may also do permanent damage. Hardening of the arteries is particularly related to tobacco addiction and is known to be a contributing cause of erectile problems.
Most experts agree that occasional inability to get a sustained erection is quite common even among healthy men. Stress, overexertion, or even a simple common cold may be enough to slow normal function down. Doctors often recommend seeking treatment if the condition appears to be worsening or happens at least 50% of the time. There are many possible treatment for erectile dysfunction, some of which can provide total relief from the condition.
What are the Different Erectile Dysfunction Medications?
There are several different types of erectile dysfunction medications on the market, some of them working very differently from others. Some erectile dysfunction medications utilize oral delivery. A man takes a pill prior to sexual activity that allows him to have an erection. Other erectile dysfunction medications are injected directly into the penis or are slipped into the urethra. Erectile dysfunction drugs are typically prescribed in accordance with a man's needs as well as any health conditions that may make the use of some types of impotence medication dangerous.
Oral erectile dysfunction medications, also known as PDE5 inhibitors, work by blocking enzymes that can inhibit erections. There are several oral impotence medications on the market, such as Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. While the mechanism of each drug is similar, there are some differences in the usage of each medication. Both Levitra and Viagra should be consumed no longer than four hours prior to the desired time of intercourse. Cialis, on the other hand, can remain effective if taken up to 36 hours before intercourse.
While oral erectile dysfunction medications are popular because they can be consumed discreetly and with minimal interruption to sexual activity, they are not always appropriate for all men. Men who have cardiac conditions or high blood pressure generally should not use these drugs because of the risk of interaction with other medications they may be taking or because they may exacerbate preexisting health conditions. In such cases, doctors will typically look to other erectile dysfunction treatments. Some of these treatments are not pharmaceutical in nature, but are instead mechanical, such as penis pumps or penile implants. There are other medications that work directly on the tissue of the penis that may be more suitable for men who cannot safely use oral medications to treat erectile dysfunction.
Papaverine, alprostadil, and phentolamine are erectile dysfunction medications that can be injected directly into the penis in order to help a man maintain his erection. While this delivery method can be uncomfortable, it may be a better choice for men who are not healthy enough to take oral medications. Alprostadil can also be used in a needle-free method known as the MUSE system by simply placing an alprotadil capsule into the urethra prior to sex. For men who are uncomfortable with needles, the MUSE system can be an excellent alternative to injections.
Another pharmaceutical option for those experiencing erectile dysfunction is testosterone replacement therapy, which can be administered through a skin patch, gel, or injection. This protocol is typically recommended for men who are known to have low testosterone and may not be suitable for men whose hormone levels are normal. This therapy can also have negative side effects, which should be weighed against its benefits.