Erectile dysfunction affects around a third of men. The market for drugs to treat ED such as Viagra is huge, but are they missing the point? It’s easy to understand why you might panic and reach for the quick-fix at the first signs of ED.
However, it’s important to take a holistic approach to ED and your health – it’s a complicated issue. With so many factors that can play a role in erectile dysfunction, it’s important to understand them all before reaching for the magic blue pill.
Let’s take a closer look at erectile dysfunction and how it relates to your overall health.
What Exactly Is ED?
Erectile dysfunction, put simply, is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. When a man is sexually excited the muscles in his penis relax allowing increased blood flow into the penis.
It is common for a man to have problems getting and maintaining an erection once in a while, but when a man suffers from ED this happens time and time again.
Erectile Dysfunction Causes
There are a large number of possible causes for ED, and they can be either physical or psychological factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Low testosterone levels
- Increased age
- Peyronie’s disease
- Certain prescription medications (mainly those used to treat depression or high blood pressure)
- Sleep disorders
- Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Relationship problems
The Warning Signs
The most common early sign of ED is difficulty getting an erection. A man might require an increasing amount of stimulation to get a full erection. They will also find it more difficult in maintaining an erection during sex. This could be due to a decrease in sensitivity in the penis.
Another sign of the onset of ED is an overall lack of sexual desire. This could be the result of biological problems such as hormone imbalances, but it can also be down to psychological issues. Concerns about ED can often lead a man to become embarrassed and feel inadequate, these feelings can lead to depression and anxiety which can significantly reduce sexual desire.
4 Facts You Should Know About ED
Now you know more about ED, the potential causes, and how to spot the early warning signs, let’s take a look at 5 important factors you should know about erectile dysfunction.
1. ED and Your Mental Health
It’s important to remember that ED is not just a physical condition. The relationship between erectile dysfunction and your mental health is a complex one – psychological factors account for almost a quarter of ED cases. If you are suffering from the symptoms of ED then it could be a good time to take a closer look at life in general.
ED can be brought on by stress. This could be the result of an over-demanding job, financial worries, or relationship problems.
Depression is also a common cause. Even if a man is completely comfortable in sexual situations, depression can still impair a man’s sexual performance.
The problem with ED and the psychological factors that can cause it is that there is a feedback loop. If you have problems getting an erection once, then the psychological bi-product of that is likely to affect your ability the next time you try. Anxiety and feelings of inadequacy around sex can quickly lead to ED.
Addressing psychological factors around sex is not just key to beating ED, but essential for your well-being too. Therapy might be necessary as well as assessing lifestyle choices. It is important to tackle them as soon as possible because psychological factors will feed into your ED and your ED will feedback to them.
2. Your Lifestyle Can Be Both Cause and Cure
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when facing ED is ‘are you healthy?’ Obesity is a leading cause of erectile dysfunction. Carrying excess weight means higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and lower testosterone levels. All of which are known causes for ED.
Choosing to lead a healthier lifestyle will not only help to alleviate these potential physical causes, but the increase in self-esteem and well-being will help psychologically too!
Other lifestyle choices can play a role in ED too. Smoking, excessive drinking, and drug use can all lead to erectile dysfunction. Choosing to cut down on vices, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced nutritious diet will not only improve your overall health but might just improve your sexual function in the process.
3. ED and Heart Disease Are Connected
Frequent problems with getting and maintaining an erection could be a sign of a more serious problem. ED is prevalent in around 50% of men with cardiovascular disease. The likelihood is that the numbers are higher, but reporting ED is not the usual priority of someone suffering from heart disease.
The main reason for this is that they both share the same risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Medications that are commonly used to treat high cholesterol could have a positive impact on those suffering from ED.
4. You Have Plenty of Options
The good news about ED is that you have plenty of options. Doctors might prescribe drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra to help alleviate the symptoms, but treatment doesn’t end there.
Shockwave therapy is now being used to treat ED. Low-intensity shockwaves are applied to different areas of the penis, stimulating new blood vessels. This in turn increases blood flow to the penis making it easier to get and maintain an erection.
Studies are being carried out into several supplements that might help to alleviate the symptoms of ED. Panax Ginseng, L-arginine, and DHEA have all been found to positive effects on sexual performance. Taking these supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle could be your best bet against ED.
Therapy for yourself and you and your partner could also be a great way to tackle ED. If you have any anxieties around sex, or if there is a deeper underlying psychological issue then speaking with a therapist can help you to overcome your ED.
An End to Erectile Dysfunction?
ED and your overall health are closely linked. Making decisions to live a healthier lifestyle could be your best defense against erectile dysfunction. Getting regular exercise, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and generally investing in your health is crucial.
If you have any more questions about erectile dysfunction don’t hesitate to contact us or take a look at the rest of our blogs.