Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction)
What are erection problems?
A man has erection problems if he cannot get or keep an erection that is firm enough for him to have sex. Erection problems are also called erectile dysfunction or impotence.
Erection problems can occur at any age. But they are more common in older men, who often have other health problems. Treatment can help both older and younger men.
What causes erection problems?
Erection problems may be caused by physical problems, such as injury to nerves or loss of blood supply to the penis.
They can also be linked to other health problems. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. Erection problems can also be linked to problems with the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
Many medicines for other health problems may cause erection problems, but most do not. If you recently began taking a new medicine and started having erection problems, this could be a side effect of the medicine. Talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to change the dose or type of medicine you take.
Men who drink too much alcohol, smoke, or use illegal drugs also are at risk for erection problems.
Other causes include surgery, such as for prostate cancer, or injury to the pelvic area.
What are the symptoms?
The only symptom of an erection problem is being unable to get and keep an erection that is firm enough to have sex. But even with an erection problem, a man may still have sexual desire and be able to have an orgasm and to ejaculate.
How are erection problems diagnosed?
Your doctor can find out if you have an erection problem by asking questions about your health and doing a physical exam. Your doctor will want to know if the problem happens all the time or just from time to time. The exam, lab tests, and sometimes mental health tests can help find out the cause of the problem.
How are they treated?
There are a number of treatments for erection problems. Doctors usually start with lifestyle changes and medicines. They usually don't advise surgery or other treatments unless those first steps don't help.
Treatment can include:
Can you prevent erection problems?
Because erection problems are most often caused by a physical problem, it's important to eat healthy foods and get enough exercise to help you stay in good health.
To reduce your risk of having an erection problem, do not smoke, drink too much alcohol, or use illegal drugs.
You may be able to avoid erection problems related to anxiety and stress by talking with your partner about your concerns. This may help you relax.
Frequently Asked Questions
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