Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), refers to the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection. For an erection to occur, a specific sequence of event needs to take place, allowing blood to enter the penis while restricting the outflow of blood. The pressure created by this “trapped” blood is what maintains an erection. If there is a consistent breakdown in any steps in the sequence, erectile dysfunction is the result. Erectile dysfunction may occur at any age, however, the occurrence of ED is increasingly common as a man ages. However, it should not be considered a natural part of aging.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

In older men, there may be physical or medical conditions that contribute to erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction may be caused by a combination of medical, physical and psychological factors including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Physical injury
  • Side effects from prescription medications
  • Drug or alcohol use

Psychological factors and certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity, stress, anxiety, guilt and fear of poor sexual performance can also contribute to ED.

What Are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is diagnosed when a patient experiences one or more symptoms for more than six months. These symptoms can include:

  • Inability to get an erection during sexual activity
  • Ability to get an erection but not every time sexual intercourse is desired
  • Inability to maintain an erection long enough to finish a sexual act
  • Inability to get an erection at any time

How Long Can Erectile Dysfunction Last?

Erectile dysfunction can last anywhere between a few months to several years. However, this duration may depend on the underlying cause. For example, if your erectile dysfunction is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, adjusting your lifestyle to consuming less alcohol may result in improvement. After this lifestyle change is made, erectile dysfunction may stop. However, if a patient’s erectile dysfunction is caused by something such as a medical condition or trauma, it may be more challenging to resolve. Some patients may suffer from erectile dysfunction for the rest of their lives, making the proper treatment a great option.

Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is diagnosed by evaluating a patient‘s medical and psychological history, performing a physical evaluation, and conducting a series of laboratory tests that may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Lipid profiles
  • Urinalysis
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Testosterone measurements
  • Ultrasound

A psychosocial evaluation may also be used to examine possible psychological factors.

Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction may be treated with:

  • Medication
  • Psychological therapy
  • Vacuum devices
  • Penile implants

Surgical implantation of an inflatable prosthesis is also an option. During this procedure, the surgeon implants a device that simulates erection by pumping fluid from a reservoir into inflatable tubes in the penis.

Prevention of Erectile Dysfunction

Not all cases of erectile dysfunction can be prevented, however, doctors may recommend the following lifestyle changes for precaution:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop use of tobacco products
  • Cut back on alcohol use
  • Reduce stress

Individuals who are obese, may benefit from losing weight as a possible means of preventing erectile dysfunction.

What Happens If Erectile Dysfunction Is Left Untreated?

While erectile dysfunction can be an ongoing health condition, if left untreated, it can lead to other health conditions that may affect a patient's life in other ways. Major stress, disappointment, low self-confidence, and relationship problems may all stem from erectile dysfunction. Seeking treatment can help improve erectile dysfunction symptoms and the overall ways it affects your life.

Schedule a Consultation for Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

If you are interested in seeking professional treatment for erectile dysfunction, don’t wait to contact our highly experienced team at Greater Hartford Urology Group. Click here to schedule your consultation, or call (860) 522-2251. Proud to serve patients in Hartford, Enfield, and Glastonbury, CT, Greater Hartford Urology Group is ready to help improve your life with ED.

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