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Understanding the Symptoms and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

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If you reached this page, it's likely you are struggling with some uncomfortable questions. What is causing my erection problems? Do I have ED? And what is ED, anyway? The truth is, the answers to these questions are not always clear-cut. Erectile Dysfunction can be a sign of a serious medical issue; however, it may as well be a passing phenomenon of which the underlying causes are not evident.

In any case, erection problems can be treated and we'll shed some light on how to identify the potential signs it may be sending you. We'll take a deeper look into the reasons why erection problems occur and how to identify what's causing erectile dysfunction in general. You'll also gain some insight on how you can identify what is causing your trouble, if it can be considered ED and if you should act upon it.

Erectile dysfunction meaning

In theory, the definition is easy to understand. It is described as a "consistent inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse". Practically, when trying to determine what is considered "consistent" and when exactly an erection passes as "sufficient", the term becomes vaguer.

Some men experience soft erections and do not consider this to be ED. Many will get an erection for a short time; however, they are not able to keep it firm for any length of time. Both these phenomenons are extremely disturbing and often cause stress and harm to self-esteem. Men quickly lose confidence and self-respect, however, this is exactly the time to try and understand what's going on and not to shy away.

What is impotence?

In medical terms impotence is the same as erectile dysfunction; however, the term is used much less frequent. Most people associate the word impotence with the inability to get an erection at all. It is presumed to be either an inherent medical problem or an irreversible medical condition. These are common misconceptions. The main causes of ED or impotence can be connected to other bodily functions of which most are curable or at least treatable.

How do I recognise erectile dysfunction symptoms?

Soft or short-lasting erections are first symptoms of impotence. It has nothing to do with being less of a man. It means that there is a disorder in some physiological processes, responsible for erections. In most cases, Erectile dysfunction does not occur at once. It is usually a slowly developing condition. When it does happen suddenly, you should probably just get a good night sleep, relieve some stress in the sauna, or let off some steam on the football field.

If this does not help, and you repeatedly find it hard to penetrate during sex for some time you might be facing ED.

How does erectile dysfunction happen?

Let's take a quick look at what happens in the body during an erection. With sufficient stimulation, the body starts producing chemicals that initiate the blood flow into the penis to be higher than the blood flow out of the penis. To restore normal blood flow Phosphodiesterases enzymes (PDE-5) counteract these chemicals usually after ejaculation. In men who do not experience any signs of impotence, these processes are balanced. If the body produces too much PDE-5, a man will experience a soft erection, and if the body releases PDE-5 too early, the erection will decline too quickly. In both cases, we are talking about erectile dysfunction.

What are the causes of erectile dysfunction?

The following physical factors may be the reason for the above described disorder and erectile dysfunction:

Physical causes

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Arteriosclerosis, or atherosclerosis, is the leading cause of erectile dysfunction. Also, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or coronary heart disease can have a negative impact on sexual performance. These diseases are more common with advanced age, which explains why older men more frequently experience erectile dysfunction. Smoking and overweight increase the risk of these diseases and therefore also the probability to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
  • Diabetes: Blood sugar diseases are also a common cause of erectile dysfunction. Arteriosclerotic deposits lead to constricted blood vessels, which in turn harm healthy blood circulation. As a result, the penis does not get enough blood supply to maintain an erection.
  • Hormone Disorders: Testosterone is by far the most important sex hormone in men. If the testosterone levels are too low, erectile dysfunction can occur.
  • Neurological Disorders: Severe neuropathies, such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's, can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction, as these diseases interfere with the nerve signals needed to create an erection.
  • spinal cord damage: A herniated disc, paraplegia or other spinal cord injury may also be responsible for erectile dysfunction. The injuries can interfere with the nerve signals involved in producing an erections.
  • Pelvic injuries: Surgical procedures in the pelvic cavity can damage the nerves that play a critical role in the creation of an erection, e.g. removal of the prostate gland in prostate cancer.
  • Genital Abnormalities such as hypospadias, where the urethra is deficient, can result in erectile dysfunction.

Psychological causes

Especially in younger men, the causes of erectile dysfunction are often psychologica. These are some of the mental factors, which can harm the ability to achieve a satisfying erection:

  • Stress and performance
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Depression
  • fears and insecurity
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Partnership conflicts
  • Doubts about your own masculinity
  • Doubts about sexual orientation

ED treatment with tablets takes care of the physical aspect, not the psychological reasons that led to the condition. They may help break the vicious cycle and prevent the mental state from deteriorating further. Positive sexual episodes will strengthen the overall sense of worth and faith in one's abilities. If the impotence is rooted in more serious mental issues, professional advice should be obtained.

Other factors that may intensify ED

Be aware, that apart from these causes, erectile dysfunction can also be attributed to your lifestyle in general. For example, extensive consume of alcohol damages the nerves in the brain or spinal cord, which take their toll on erections. Taking certain medications may also affect potency, for example, the so-called beta-blockers, which have a hypotensive effect.

Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of more serious illnesses. Many men are ashamed to face a doctor with their potency problems. The discreet online service of DoktorABC allows you to consult a doctor and receive the appropriate treatment for you without having to visit a doctor personally.

When should I get treatment?

Keep in mind, that prolonged erection problems can harm your relationship and your personality. Therefore treatment at an early stage can save you additional complications and harm. When your symptoms are severe, or you have had issues for a long time, we highly recommend that you consult a doctor and consider additional medical checkups. Erectile Dysfunction could in itself be a symptom of another more serious disease.

The DoktorABC service allows you to obtain a prescription and treatment for erectile dysfunction online. You may also consult the doctor discreetly using your personal account at DoktorABC regarding additional individual concerns.

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