What is Erectile Dysfunction?
The basic definition of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is difficulty or inability to achieve an erect penis. Not really a surprise, there. Most people are familiar with ED, especially with the popularity of drugs like Viagra. In fact, ED is such a commonplace concept that it is the punchline of many jokes; it has been painted as something humorous, demeaning and emasculating. Wanna passively-aggressively give your buddy a hard time? Joke about his inability to “get it up.” Or maybe you’re going for something a little more biting? There are jokes and insults for that, too.
Who Cares About Erectile Dysfunction?
Well, men for one. Besides half of the population, here’s why we, as a society, should care. Erectile Dysfunction may be much more serious than our jabs allude to. Perhaps we should start thinking of this as a potentially life altering (even life threatening) condition, rather than wielding it as a verbal sword to cut our friends down or humiliate men when we are angry.
Think I’m overreacting? Being hyperbolic to write my blog? Let me lay it out and I’ll let you decide.
We’ve established what ED is, now let’s dive into causes, risk factors, potential complications and (finally) what can be done about it.
Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
There is a common misconception that men rely solely on visual stimulation for arousal. A simple mechanism for a simple organism. There is nothing simple about men or the way their bodies work. In truth, male arousal is just as complex as female arousal. Both men and women require a complicated, intricate dance between the brain, nerves, muscles and blood supply; the conscious and unconscious mind must also be factored into the equation, which means the emotional and cognitive state of the person is crucial. When so many systems must coordinate their efforts, a lot can go wrong. Here are some causes and risk factors:
- Anything that can restrict blood flow anywhere in the body.
- Heart disease
- Clogged or blocked blood vessels
- High blood pressure (often due to the above)
- High cholesterol
- Peyronie’s disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Some medications
- Substance abuse
- Sleep disruption/disorder
- Prostatitis, prostate cancer/treatment
- Some surgeries
- Muscle atrophy or collagen loss
- Worry about achieving erection (or lack thereof)
- Not feeling attractive/wanted
- Stress, difficulty coping with stress
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health issues
These are some serious underlying medical issues; erectile dysfunction is simply a by-product or symptom of something not-quite-right. The body, mind and/or emotions are not in a state of homeostasis for optimal functioning. Now we understand some of the causes, let’s look at the effects of ED.
Complications and Implications of Erectile Dysfunction
- Unsatisfactory sex life
- Stress and anxiety
- Intimacy and relationship issues
- Fertility and procreation difficulties
You see how this can become a vicious cycle. This is why ED is not a joke; it is a serious condition that should be investigated thoroughly and treated with respect. On the bright side, there are definitely effective treatment options. Once the underlying cause has been discovered, treated and controlled, here are some solutions for ED (I am not endorsing or recommending these, necessarily, I just want you to be aware of some options out there).
- Penis pump: usually a vacuum that draws blood into the penis
- Pelvic floor strengthening/relaxation: increases blood flow to the penis and decreases unnecessary tension that may be restricting blood flow. To assist with learning how to voluntarily contract and release these muscles, Pelvic Floor Therapy can help.
- Acoustic Wave Therapy: kinetic energy applied to the groin and penis, which increases blood flow/new blood vessel formation, reverses chronic inflammation, stimulates collagen production and releases trigger points
- Penis implant: surgically placed in the body to erect the penis
- Medication: pills taken when erection is anticipated/desired
Look for more blogs in the coming weeks to explain, in depth, these solutions so you can decide the best course of action. If you would like more information immediately, please feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our pelvic floor specialists. Simply fill out the form below and our customer experience expert will contact you shortly.