Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a frustrating and common medical problem that many men struggle with when they can’t get or keep an erection. If it becomes an ongoing issue, it can affect stress, self-confidence, and relationships. Erectile dysfunction can be caused or exacerbated by a variety of things, from underlying medical conditions to a person’s mental state.
Some common causes of ED:
- Depression: Depression is an overlooked, all-too-common mental cause of erectile dysfunction. Burnout or even just sadness can give you low self-esteem, dampen your energy, and lower your libido and affect your chances of getting an erection.
- Heavy alcohol usage: A few drinks may be able to help sex drive, but overuse of alcohol can make it extremely hard to form or keep an erection. This is usually a temporary, acute cause.
- Medication: Many common drugs can reduce sex drive, including antidepressants, antiandrogens (medicines used for prostate cancer therapy), blood pressure drugs, ulcer medications, or pain medications. Recreational drugs like amphetamines or marijuana can also affect sex drive.
- Stress/ anxiety: Stress from other parts of your life, like work responsibilities, can make its way into your sex life and cause erectile dysfunction. Anxiety about having erectile dysfunction can make the problem even worse, causing a spiral of fear or worry about being unable to get erect.
- Weight: Obese men have a harder time getting an erection. This can be linked to self-esteem issues but also because obese men usually have lower levels of the male hormone testosterone. Obesity is linked to higher blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, which can reduce blood flow causing erectile dysfunction.
- Underlying health problems: Conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart or blood vessel disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie’s disease, or injuries to the penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction.
Determining the cause can help erectile dysfunction to be treated. It could simply be lifestyle habits that need to change to target an underlying issue and solve the problem. Depending on the cause, treatments could include a change in diet, reducing smoking or drinking, or an increase in exercise. Other treatment plans could target emotional or mental problems. If the cause cannot be treated, other treatment options exist that can overcome erectile dysfunction issues.
There are numerous treatment plans to directly combat erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Testosterone therapy: Low levels of testosterone can be augmented with a supplemental testosterone therapy that can help increase sex drive.
- Penile injections: Alprostadil can be self-injected into the side of the penis with a very fine needle. The success rate for this method is as high as 85%. It can also be mixed with other drugs, which is called “bimix” or “trimix” combination therapy. The amount of each drug used can be changed based on the severity of your erectile dysfunction.
- Oral drugs: Drugs known as PDE type-5 inhibitors like Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and Stendra can be taken an hour or two before sex and help increase blood flow. You shouldn’t take this if you are taking nitrates for your heart.
- Vacuum Erection Devices: A vacuum erection device is a plastic tube that slips over the penis. A pump at the end allows for a low-pressure vacuum around the penis and can result in an erection.
- Penile implants: This surgical treatment involves the insertion of a penile implant to stiffen the penis.
All the treatments, except for implant surgery, are used to alleviate symptoms. Eventually, the treatment wears off. Various treatments work better or worse for different people. Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options if one option doesn’t work out.
Many men feel embarrassed to talk about erectile dysfunction, which is why Physician 360 makes it easy to have a convenient and discreet telemedicine consultation for erectile dysfunction, with a prescription dispatched directly to a pharmacy of your choice if needed. Physician 360 provides online medical consultations, so you can chat with a doctor about your personal health right from home. Our doctors can help you figure out what the best erectile dysfunction treatment is for you.