Sexual dysfunction refers to a persistent difficulty with sexual desire/ response, arousal, or orgasm or pain. It affects approximately 30% of men and 40% of women and can affect any age although is more common in those with increasing age as it is related to a decline in health associated with aging. It is even more common in couples dealing with infertility.
Sexual issues that interfere with intercourse and prevent conception can have serious consequences for couples. Infertility can be caused by issues with any phase of the sexual response, such as desire, arousal, orgasm, and pain disorders. This can manifest as a lack of desire to engage in sex (diminished libido), inability to have or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction), difficulties releasing sperm (premature and retarded ejaculation), and vaginal muscle tightness that prevents intercourse (vaginismus), all preventing a person from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity.
This week our focus will be on sexual dysfunction in male which is known as Erectile Dysfunction.
WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to obtain and maintain a firm enough erection for sexual intercourse. Having occasional erection problems is not necessarily a cause for concern. But having erectile dysfunction on a regular basis can cause stress, affect self-confidence, and contribute to friction in a relationship. ED can also be an indication of an underlying health condition that requires treatment, as well as a risk factor for heart disease.
ED can certainly contribute to male infertility because it interferes with ejaculation, which is required for the sperm to enter the vaginal canal and seek out the woman’s egg. Infertility, on the other hand, can cause anxiety and even depression, both of which contribute to ED. Furthermore, conceiving pressures can cause performance anxiety, which can prevent a man from having an erection. As you can see, erectile dysfunction and infertility are strongly intertwined, as one can lead to the other.
CAUSES OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
The following are some of the outlined causes of erectile dysfunction:
- AGE: Erectile dysfunction like many other health issues becomes more common as you get older. According to research approximately 2% to 12% of men in their forties have some form of ED, this percentage rises with each decade of life. In fact, more than half of men over the age of 70 have some form of ED.
- DIABETES: Erectile dysfunction is one of the medical issues that many diabetic men must deal with. The longer you have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), the more likely it is that you will develop ED. However, how well you control your blood sugar levels has a real impact on your risk of ED. Diabetes-related erectile dysfunction is not always completely reversible, but you can definitely make it a lot better or less likely to happen by following the doctor’s advice to control your diabetes.
- HEART DISEASE, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HIGH CHOLESTEROL: Erectile dysfunction has an interesting relationship with a man’s cardiovascular health. High blood pressure and high cholesterol have long been known to contribute to ED. Recent research, has found that when healthy men develop erectile dysfunction, many of them are diagnosed with heart disease less than 5 years later. So, if you have ED and no other health problems, you should ask your doctor to examine your heart. By recognizing the warning signs early, you may be able to prevent the development of heart disease.
- SMOKING: Smoking and other tobacco use, is linked to a variety of health problems, including erectile dysfunction. Tobacco consumption reduces blood flow throughout your entire body. This includes the blood vessels in a man’s penis. If the blood supply is reduced there, achieving and maintaining an erection becomes much more difficult. Fortunately, this is reversible. When you stop smoking, your erectile ability will improve.
- SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs): Sexually transmitted infections can lead to erectile dysfunction. Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, untreated HIV, and viral hepatitis can sometimes cause infections in the prostate gland. If this occurs, it is possible that you will experience ED symptoms. Most of the time, treating both the prostate infection and taking steps to manage STIs will resolve any ED issues. A prostate infection, on the other hand, can cause permanent damage if left untreated.
- PROSTATE CANCER AND INFLAMMATION: It should come as no surprise that a diseased prostate can cause erectile dysfunction. One of the components of sperm is produced by the prostate. While benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is not the cause of ED, the medications used to treat it can. Chronic prostate inflammation or prostate cancer, on the other hand, can cause painful ejaculation and difficulty achieving an erection. If you have known prostate issues and are experiencing ED, consult your urologist.
- LOW TESTOSTERONE: Low testosterone level in men causes low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hair loss and insomnia. The lower your testosterone level, the more symptoms you may experience. When testosterone levels return to normal, most men will notice that their ED symptoms improve or disappear entirely.
- CERTAIN PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: A variety of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction. Some of these include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines, acid reflux medications, and opioid pain relievers. This is not an exhaustive list, so it is possible to have an erectile problem having recently started a new medication. Keep in mind that excessive alcohol consumption and the overuse of recreational drugs (including marijuana) can both cause erectile dysfunction.
- MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: In the case of erectile dysfunction, the brain plays a significant role in the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. When you are stressed or struggling with mental health, the brain may have difficulty creating nerve connections and releasing the hormones that cause an erection. Depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, watching too much pornography, and even performance anxiety in the bedroom are examples of stressors. With the right support or treatment, these are manageable and potentially reversible…………… TO BE CONTINUED