Treating erectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence, remains a subject many men struggle to talk about. And understandably so.
Experiencing a problem downstairs can be pretty distressing. ED can affect your self-esteem, relationships, and mental health, as well as depriving you of the enormous benefits of regular sex.
Yet, erectile dysfunction means different things to different people. Many describe it as the inability to get an erection. More commonly, medical professionals view ED as an inability to maintain an erection for a reasonable length of time.
Who Does ED Affect?
If you’re suffering from ED, trust me when I say you’re not alone. We estimate the condition affects more than one in five Australian men over the age of 40.
Men with pre-existing medical conditions make up a large proportion of sufferers. The main culprits here are obesity and diabetes.
Many find it surprising that we only attribute around 3% of ED cases to hormonal problems. Low testosterone levels limiting erections is largely a myth.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
The internet will no doubt steer you towards any number of ridiculous theories as to the causes of erection problems. However, it’s important to present the facts once and for all.
There are many recognised causes of erectile dysfunction, with most falling into the physical or psychological categories.
Physical causes include:
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries that supply the penis with blood)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Hormonal imbalances
Other contributing factors involve cigarette smoking, alcohol, drugs, medication side-effects, and insomnia.
Psychological causes include performance anxiety, relationship problems, depression, and stress.
In almost all cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by a combination of factors.
How is ED Diagnosed?
Rest assured, it’s a very rare event that you’ll to drop your pants for an ED diagnosis . If you haven‘t recently injured your penis or noticed any visible changes, there’s no need for me to conduct a physical examination.
However, figuring out why you’re experiencing erection issues is super important. As mentioned above, ED symptoms may indicate something is not quite right with another part of your body.
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction can be simple once we’ve identified the critical problems you’re experiencing. It’s also important to highlight that it’s not all about a quick fix. Diagnosis may involve a blood test and a chat about the most effective next steps.
An ultrasound scan can help in some cases. This is a painless, non-invasive way of getting a bunch of information about what might be happening down below.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction
Once we’ve figured out the factors at play, we can discuss a combination of treatments – which include:
- Medications to increase blood flow to the penis, such as Viagra or Cialis.
- Counselling for those who may benefit.
- Talking about how lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol and diet could be contributing factors.
- Referring you to a urologist if together we feel surgery is appropriate.
Men often believe a discussion about ED treatment is going to be hugely embarrassing. Yet without fail, patients tell me how relieved they feel to be finally talking about it. Trust me – as a doctor, I have far more uncomfortable consultations every day.
Start With a Visit to Your GP
GPs are best placed to have open and honest conversations about what’s going on and how it’s affecting you. Our job is to listen and together determine the right course of action to get you back to where you want to be.
We’re here to help in any way we can.