Erectile Dysfunction FAQs (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
How does a man achieve an erection?
For a man to have an erection, a complex process takes place within his body.
ED occurs when this process does not progress normally. Arousal and erections are physical and mental activities, so it is important to remember that the sexual partner plays an integral role. Effective management of erection problems and erectile dysfunction is often more successful if the sexual partner is involved with the evaluation and treatment.
Is impotence the same as erectile dysfunction?
Yes, the terms mean the same.
Premature ejaculation is often confused with erectile dysfunction. Premature ejaculation is a condition in which the entire process of arousal, erection, ejaculation, and climax occur very rapidly, often in just a few minutes or even seconds, leaving both the sexual partner and the one experiencing premature ejaculation unsatisfied. Premature ejaculation may accompany an erection problem such as ED but is generally treated differently.
Erection problems will usually produce a significant psychological and emotional reaction in most men. This is often described as a pattern of anxiety and stress that can further interfere with normal sexual function. This "performance anxiety" needs to be recognized and addressed by your doctor.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Currently, virtually any man who wishes to have an erection can obtain it, regardless of the underlying cause of his problem. Many reasonable treatment options exist. Your first step is to find a well-trained, experienced, and compassionate doctor who is willing to take the time to understand you and fully examine you to discover the cause and discuss the treatments available to you.
By seeing your doctor, you may very well be saving your life if the doctor detects – and treats – a life-threatening illness. Often, you can restore your sexual health by treating a condition such as high blood pressure with diet and exercise or controlling your diabetes.
For some men, erectile dysfunction develops with age or may be related to depression or another psychological cause. In these cases, psychological counseling with you and your sexual partner may be successful.
Medications can cause ED, especially drugs you might take to control blood pressure or depression (antidepressants) (see Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction for a list of medications that may cause ED). Anti-ulcer drugs can be a cause, as can alcohol or drug abuse. ED is a side effect. Talk with your doctor about medications that might not cause this side effect. Do not just stop taking your prescribed medication.
Other causes include damage to the erection bodies in the penis; diabetes; various hormonal disorders; blood flow problems; psychological factors, such as depression; and surgical complications from abdominal, pelvic, or back surgery.
Last Reviewed 11/21/2017
Stephen W Leslie, MD, FACS
Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Martin I Resnick, MD
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