Erectile Dysfunction

Often due to aging, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual problem men report. Learn about ED treatments and how The Urology Group can help.

Overview

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for sexual intercourse. An estimated 10 million to 20 million American men have been diagnosed with ED, and an additional 10 million having partial erectile dysfunction. Cases of ED become more prevalent with age, and the majority of those diagnosed are 65 or older. At least half of men older than 50 have some degree of erectile dysfunction.

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Cause

Erectile dysfunction is typically associated with aging, but it may also be a consequence of illness or medical treatments. It can occur in men even in their 20s. Causes include low blood flow into the erectile tissue, impaired nerve impulses from the brain to the penis and health conditions including diabetes, kidney disease, vascular disease, neurological diseases and prostate cancer.

Symptoms

An occasional inability to achieve an erection is normal and shouldn’t be cause for worry. But failure to reach or sustain an erection more than half of the time, at any age, may indicate a condition that needs treatment.

Diagnosis

A physician will perform a physical exam and a psychosocial evaluation to determine stress levels. It is essential to provide a detailed history of medication and drug use since nearly 25% of ED cases can be attributed to medications for other conditions. A series of tests are available, including:

  • Blood test: Detects abnormal hormone levels, thyroid levels or cholesterol levels.
  • Urinalysis: Provides a reading of protein and sugar in the urine. Abnormal measurements of these substances can indicate diabetes or kidney disease, which can cause ED.
  • Ultrasound: Take images of the body’s tissues and evaluate blood flow.

Treatment

Depending on the cause and severity of your condition, there are several treatment options available, including:

  • Medication: Several drugs can increase the flow of blood into the penis so when a man is sexually stimulated, he can get an erection.
  • Intra-urethral therapy: Medicated pellets, each about the size of a grain of rice, are inserted into the urethra through the tip of the penis, enabling an erection.
  • Intracavernosal injection therapy: Medications are injected into the shaft of the penis to increase blood flow.
  • Vacuum/constrictive devices: A large cylinder is placed over the penis and a vacuum is created, drawing blood into the penis for an erection. A small rubber ring is then placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection.
  • Penile prosthesis: The physician implants a bendable or inflatable device that can create an erection.
  • Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy: If ED is the result of performance anxiety, depression or other psychosocial issues, the physician can refer to a specialist.

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