Erectile problems - How to diagnose and treat them without fuss
What are erectile problems?
Many men experience erectile problems when they reach their 40s and 50s. Inconsistent erections, or erections that don’t last, may occur infrequently but it only takes a few episodes to undermine a man’s sexual confidence. If it starts becoming a regular occurrence it could have negative outcomes, including anxiety, stress or relationship problems.
There are several key factors to consider when dealing with erectile problems, otherwise known as erectile dysfunction. Firstly, it’s important to understand that it is common, so if you’re suffering from it, you’re not on your own. It’s good to recognise that it’s easy to diagnose and, most important of all, you can do something about it.
Who is affected by erectile problems?
Don’t panic if you are experiencing an inability to perform satisfactorily – it’s estimated that about half of all men aged between 40 and 70 suffer from ED to some extent and it becomes more common with age. Although it’s not precisely defined, the failure to achieve an erection more than half of the time during sexual intercourse is considered erectile dysfunction by medical professionals.
The good news is that simple lifestyle changes may be enough to ward off the problem. That's because new research indicates erectile problems is more common among men with diabetes, or other risk factors for heart disease impacted by lower levels of exercise, than those who are physically active. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may improve erectile problems by reducing these risk factors.
It’s important to note that ED is different from low sex drive – which is having little or no interest in sex, even if you can get erections – and although it is common with age it is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
Sadly though, there is a stigma attached to erectile problems because virility in men is closely associated with sexual performance. They can be distressing and lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem, depression and relationship problems. Even the term ‘dysfunction’ makes ED sound like the death knell for your sex life, when, in reality, erectile problems are a predictable and treatable result of aging that’s usually fixed with a range of erectile dysfunction medications and treatments.
Sex is too important a part of life to just ‘give up’. Research shows maintaining a good sex life (rated as twice a week or more) is good for men's health.
Erectile problems and divorce
Far too commonly, couples who have sex problems find themselves growing apart because they find it difficult to talk about sexual health.
Sydney author Bettina Ardnt in her book What Men Want in Bed – which is based on the sex diaries of 150 Australian men – quotes research which shows:
- Six out of ten men with erection problems never talk to their partners about it.
- 21 percent said erectile dysfunction was the cause of their relationship break up. Bernie Zilbergeld in The New Male Sexualitysays partner blame leads to:
- Reduced touching.
- No longer feeling close.
Bernie Zilbergeld says: “Frequently the woman is angry at the man for not being willing to get help sooner.”
5 fast facts about erectile problems
- 50 percent of men over 40 suffer from erectile problems.
- Men reach their sexual peak at 18, when testosterone levels (the male hormone of mastery and control) are at their highest. Testosterone falls by 1 percent a year after the age of 40.
- High stress events like job loss, illness or accident, divorce or death of a partner can dramatically reduce testosterone levels by 10 years in just a few months.
- Relationship breakdown and divorce are frequent outcomes of ignoring erectile problems.
- Lifestyle-related changes such as weight loss, exercise and reduced alcohol intake will improve your sex life, but you don’t have to wait for those changes to improve erectile function.
5 symptoms of erectile problems
You may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly:
- Have trouble getting an erection one out of four times.
- Have difficulty maintaining an erection during sexual activities.
- Experience less frequent and strong morning erections, or complete failure to achieve an erection.
- Have to make a conscious effort to maintain your erection, and it is increasingly difficult to keep it.
- Experience a reduced interest in sex (for example, you haven’t had sex for more than a month).
Other related sexual disorders include:
- Premature ejaculation.
- Delayed ejaculation.
- Anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after ample stimulation.
How are erectile problems diagnosed?
Being sexually active is a good indicator of overall physical and emotional health. Studies show that sexually active men live longer – and the opposite also applies. Erectile problems can be like the canary in the mine – they may warn of possible future health problems like diabetes, hardening of the arteries, or cardiovascular disease.
Some diseases may interfere with penis function by either disturbing the nerves, or lessening blood flow. When the first signs of erectile problems occur there is sometimes an unknown underlying physical cause such as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, hypertension or the use of certain prescription medications. Because these may be a sign of these potentially significant underlying conditions, left untreated, these could have a substantial impact on your health.
Good erections require strong blood flow to the penis and erectile dysfunction may be a sign of poor blood flow to the tiny penile capillaries.
According to WebMD1, if you have other health problems that could be the cause of erectile problems, you may want to see a specialist – usually an urologist – for a consultation that could include:
- Blood tests.
- A mental health exam.
- An overnight erection test.
- Ultrasound of your penis to check blood flow.
- A urinalysis.
3 main causes of erectile dysfunction
According to well regarded U.S medical practice and research group, the Mayo Clinic, “male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.”2
The three main causes of erectile problems can be grouped into physical, psychological and contributing factors.
Some of the common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- Heart disease.
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Certain prescription medications.
- Alcoholism and other substance abuse.
- Sleep disorders.
- Prostate cancer or enlarged prostate treatments.
- Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.
The Mayo Clinic says the brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns.
- Risk factors.
- As you get older, erections might take longer to develop and might not be as firm.
Risk factors that can contribute to erectile problems
In addition to the above, various risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
- Medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart conditions.
- Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, can over time cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Being overweight, especially if you're obese.
- Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer.
- Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections.
- Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate conditions.
- Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression.
- Drug and alcohol use, especially if you're a long-term drug user or heavy drinker.2
What might your doctor prescribe for erectile problems?
Due to the potential of underlying causes getting worse, it is important to take action when you first notice you’re experiencing erectile problems. If you ignore the symptoms, or make excuses for sexual non-performance, then it may become increasingly more difficult to get hard again.
The good news is that there are many erectile dysfunction treatments available. A doctor may recommend well-known oral erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. There are also natural herbal options available, including herbal treatments like Herbal Ignite.
There are other treatments like erectile injections, penile surgery and vacuum pumps. Erectile dysfunction medications may cause side effects, or be dangerous to your health, and it is important to talk to your doctor about potential side effects before starting any new prescription medication or treatment.
Research shows that sexual spontaneity is very important to men. So treatments like pumps and injections, which can be more invasive and which require more pre-planning before sex, may therefore not be as popular as oral treatments.
This may also be the case for some pills, which are required to be taken up to an hour ahead of sex and preferably not after a fatty meal. Understandably, this pre-planning can dampen sexual spontaneity, which can put some men off using it. “You take the pill and by the time you’re ready for sex, your partner’s fallen asleep,” is a complaint that is sometimes heard.
Erectile problems – ‘Use it or lose it’
Many urologists consider erectile problems are a progressive disease. New medical thinking is that without treatment, erection problems will worsen. According to a Harvard University health newsletter, “like all organs, the penis depends on oxygen to keep its tissues healthy and functioning well.”
A healthy erection increases blood flow to the penis by six times the normal rate, flooding the penis tissue with life-giving oxygen and preventing cellular damage.
The idea is that maintaining regular erections is important for sexual health is backed up by Sydney sexual medicine specialist, Dr Michael Lowy, who says: "The erectile tissues need a lot more exercise (when you're older) to maintain their integrity, and part of that exercise is sexual intercourse, masturbation or even night erections."
Important considerations about erectile problems
- Maintaining an active sex life is good for your health and quality of life.
- Ignoring erectile problems may result in future health problems and relationship issues.
- There is a wide range of erectile treatments available, so whatever your problem is, it is likely there is a treatment that can restore your erections and give you a new lease on life.
The range of options is growing and include:
- Seeking specialist care, which may include penile pumps, injections or stents.
- A change in the way you live – dealing with stress or depression, getting more exercise or sleep.
- Oral treatments like the range of ED drugs or herbal remedies like Herbal Ignite.
Why is Herbal Ignite for Men a good natural choice for erectile problems?
In contrast, all-natural Herbal Ignite is taken like a daily tonic regardless of sexual activity. You don’t have to think about popping a pill to perform. The downside is that herbal erectile dysfunction treatments don’t work within hours. You usually need to be taking them for a few days before you notice any difference in erection strength.
Herbs, like those in Herbal Ignite, aid both the physical and psychological conditions that promote blood flow to the penis. This includes increasing testosterone levels to support erections, as well as aiding stress relief and combatting fatigue, improving energy levels and confidence and building muscle mass.
The herbal formula works in a three-fold action:
- It stimulates men’s hormonal system to produce more testosterone; the male hormone which governs sexual performance and which naturally declines as men age.
- It improves energy levels, reduces stress and restores a sense of wellbeing.
- It promotes blood supply to the penis and helps to enhance sex drive.
Herbal Ignite has been used successfully by thousands of men in New Zealand and Australia to increase testosterone levels and boost libido and sexual satisfaction. It also relieves stress and fatigue and improves energy levels and confidence. It has a potent herbal formula that works over time to help resolve the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction and low sex drive in men and, in particular, low testosterone levels that result from aging.
Herbal Ignite for Men is an over-the-counter dietary supplement taken daily with food to increase libido in men. It contains:
- Tribulus Terrestris, which lifts testosterone levels and improves sexual activity and muscular strength.
- Horny Goat Weed, which increases desire and sexual performance.
- Avena Sativa, which reduces stress and increases sexual desire.
Herbal Ignite is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
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Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.