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Disease of Male Reproductive System: Erectile Dysfunction Explained

At some point during the course of sexual lives, many men experience problems with arousal or libidos. For most, these are short-term complaints resolving naturally without the need for medical consultation or treatment of any kind.

For some, however, a distressing, long-term issue, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), may arise. This condition requires attention from a qualified medical practitioner who can advise on the best course of action to take.

What Exactly is Erectile Dysfunction?

Put simply, erectile dysfunction is a condition in which it becomes difficult to get or maintain an erection within the bounds of normal sexual activity. It can be caused by periods of stress, psychological trauma or emotional imbalance, physical ailments or illnesses that have recently occurred, or that are long-term issues for the patient.

This problem, while tending to be the reserve of the older man, can actually occur in much younger men too, particularly those who lead very stressful or busy lives with little time for rest and relaxation.

Testosterone and Erectile Dysfunction

Testosterone is a key hormone involved in the sexual function of men. It helps maintain the structure and function of the penis and contributes to the physical reactions that occur during sexual arousal and activity.

Testosterone boosts sexual desire and increases the number of sexual acts and erections during sleep.

  • Lower Testosterone in ED: Men with ED often have lower testosterone levels.
  • Penile Health: Testosterone plays a role in the health of the arteries and elasticity of penile tissue.

Key Points

  • Testosterone is crucial for male sexual function and arousal.
  • Low testosterone levels can lead to decreased sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and even gynaecomastia (↗️).
  • Testosterone affects the penile structure and elasticity, vital for erection quality.
  • There is a variable threshold for testosterone levels that cause sexual health problems.
  • Prostate cancer treatments that lower testosterone can diminish sexual function.

The Role of Testosterone in Sexual Function

  • Penile Structure Maintenance: Testosterone is essential for maintaining the physical structure of the penis.
  • Sexual Activity: It increases sexual desire and the frequency of sexual acts and sleep-related erections.

Effects of Low Testosterone

Men with reduced testosterone levels may experience:

  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Fewer sleep-related erections
  • Ejaculation difficulties
  • Reduced semen volume

Testosterone Level Thresholds and Symptoms

  • Individual thresholds for testosterone levels vary.
  • Certain levels are associated with specific symptoms:
    • Low sex drive
    • Obesity
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Depression
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Lack of concentration
    • Hot flashes

Prostate Cancer Treatments and Sexual Function

In men treated for prostate cancer with therapies that lower testosterone levels, the impact on sexual function is noticeable, often resulting in ED and reduced sexual activity. However, if these treatments are stopped and testosterone levels return to normal, sexual function often improves.

Diagnosing the Symptoms of ED

An appointment with a qualified health practitioner or GP will include asking the patient what illness or condition he may already been suffering from, or is being treated for.

Common complaints that contribute towards erectile dysfunction include cardiovascular diseases, stroke, hypertension (↗️), obesity and diabetes. In some cases, this condition may arise because of other physical conditions, as well. However, according to recent researches, this condition usually arises due to improper use of tonic medications.

Other factors to be considered should be whether the patient consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, is a regular or heavy smoker and if illegal drugs are taken on either an infrequent or frequent basis.

Matters pertaining to past and present relationships whether heterosexual or homosexual are also important to discuss. Emotional as well as sexual matters can play an enormous part in the matter of erectile dysfunction and talking about these can help in deciding the best form of treatment to take.

Tests and Routine Questions for ED

erectile dysfunction

Identifying Underlying Health Issues

Diagnostic Testing for ED:

  • Tests may be prescribed to rule out conditions like hypertension and heart issues.
  • Blood sugar levels are checked for diabetes symptoms.
  • Other underlying health issues related to weight management are considered.

Dietary and Lifestyle Assessments

Lifestyle Factors and ED:

  • Inquiries into dietary habits may be made.
  • Diets high in processed or unhealthy foods can contribute to various health problems that need to be addressed.

Physical Examinations of Sexual Organs

Assessing Male Sexual Health:

  • A thorough examination is conducted to eliminate anomalies in the penis or testicles.
  • This helps determine if physical abnormalities are contributing to erectile dysfunction.

Specialized Prostate Examination

Prostate Health Check:

  • A Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) may be performed.
  • The examination checks the prostate gland's condition, detecting enlargement or other issues.

Treatment of ED

Once the diagnosis of erectile dysfunction (ED) is confirmed, various treatment options are available to help manage this condition.

Drug Treatments

Oral Medication Options for ED:

  • Cialis: A branded medication taken prior to sexual activity.
  • Levitra: Another option similar to Cialis, can be used as an alternative.
  • Viagra (Sildenafil): Perhaps the most well-known treatment, available as a generic drug under the name Sildenafil.

Usage Instructions:

  • These medications are typically taken around fifteen minutes before sexual activity.
  • If one drug is ineffective, another may be prescribed.

Non-Drug Therapies

Alternative Treatments for ED:

  1. Penile Implant Surgery:

    • Involves surgical implantation of malleable rods into the penis.
    • Provides a permanent solution by keeping the penis semi-rigid.
  2. ED Vacuum Devices:

    • Utilize an acrylic pump and a constraining band.
    • Promote blood flow to the penis, aiding in maintaining an erection.

Herbal Remedies

Natural Supplements for ED:

  • Ginseng: Known for its general health benefits, including improving erectile function.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: May help with blood flow improvement.
  • Yohimbe Bark Extract: Often used for its potential effects on sexual health.

Considerations Before Use:

  • Herbal remedies should be discussed with a healthcare professional to avoid interactions with other medications.

Consulting Healthcare Professionals

Before beginning any treatment for ED, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance on:

  • The most appropriate treatment based on individual health profiles.
  • Possible interactions with current medications.
  • The risks and benefits of each treatment option.

Remember, while exploring treatment options for ED, it's essential to consider both effectiveness and safety, and to have an open dialogue with a qualified medical practitioner to ensure the best outcome.

Image source: By studio tdes, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr

⚠️ Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.