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How To Tell If You Have Erectile Dysfunction

How To Tell If You Have Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s also sometimes referred to as impotence.

Occasional ED isn’t uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.

Not all male sexual problems are caused by ED. Other types of male sexual dysfunction include:

  • premature ejaculation
  • delayed or absent ejaculation
  • lack of interest in sex

What are the symptoms of ED?

You may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly have:

  • trouble getting an erection
  • difficulty maintaining an erection during sexual activities
  • reduced interest in sex

Other sexual disorders related to ED include:

  • premature ejaculation
  • delayed ejaculation
  • anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after ample stimulation

You should talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they’ve lasted for two or more months. Your doctor can determine if your sexual disorder is caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.

What causes ED?

There are many possible causes for ED, and they can include both emotional and physical disorders. Some common causes are:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • hyperlipidemia
  • damage from cancer or surgery
  • injuries
  • obesity or being overweight
  • increased age
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • relationship problems
  • drug use
  • alcohol use
  • smoking

ED can be caused by only one of these factors or several. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor so that they can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions.

Overview

Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.

Having erection trouble from time to time isn't necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.

If you're concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor — even if you're embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

The most common causes of ED are health problems that affect blood vessels and blood flow in the penis. These include hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which is linked to diabetes, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Therefore, ED may be a sign of heart disease or other serious health problems.

Other common causes of ED include:

Drugs. Examples are medications (antidepressants and drugs to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate cancer), alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs

Lack of sexual desire. This can result from depression, anxiety, brain diseases such as stroke, and low testosterone (the male sex hormone)

Nerve damage. Damage to the nerves that deliver signals from the brain to the penis can occur due to diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS) spinal cord injuries, pelvic or prostate surgery, radiation therapy, or pelvic trauma

Hormone imbalance. Low testosterone, high prolactin, and abnormal thyroid hormone levels can cause ED

Chronic kidney and liver disease. These diseases affect blood vessels, nerves, and hormone levels

How do doctors find the cause of erectile dysfunction?

If you have been having ED for more than two months, you should see a doctor to find the cause. To detect the cause of ED, your doctor will take a history of when you started to have problems with erections and sex drive, illnesses or injuries that could cause ED, and any recent physical or emotional changes in your life. You also will need to review all the medications you take. The evaluation most often includes a physical exam.

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