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, mental health, and deprive you of the enormous benefits of regular sex.
ON THIS PAGE
- Who does ED affect?
- What causes erectile dysfunction?
- How is ED diagnosed?
- Erectile dysfunction treatments
- About Dr James Redwood
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 40.
Men with pre-existing medical conditions make up a large proportion of sufferers. The main culprits here are obesity and diabetes.
Many people find it surprising that we only attribute around 3% of ED cases to hormonal problems. It’s largely a myth that low testosterone levels affect erections.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
The internet will steer you towards any number of ridiculous theories as to the causes of erection problems. However, let’s talk facts.
There are many causes of erectile dysfunction, with most falling into either the physical or psychological category.
Physical causes include:
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries that supply the penis with blood)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Hormonal imbalances
Cigarette smoking, alcohol, drugs, medication side effects, and insomnia are other contributing factors.
Psychological causes include performance anxiety, relationship problems, depression, and stress.
In almost all cases, a combination of factors are at play.
How is ED Diagnosed?
Rest assured, your GP will rarely ask you 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 a GP to conduct a physical examination.
However, discovering why you’re experiencing erection issues is essential, especially when considering symptoms of ED may indicate a problem with another part of your body.
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction can be simple once I’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 helpful information about what might be causing the problem.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
Once we’ve figured out what factors are at play, we can discuss any combination of treatments, including:
- Medications to increase blood flow to the penis, such as Viagra.
- 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 we feel surgery is appropriate.
Some men find talking about their ED embarrassing. Rest assured, I have far more awkward medical discussions every day.
Without fail, patients tell me how relieved they are to finally be talking about it.
Start With a Visit to Your GP
We’re best placed to have open and honest conversations about what’s happening and the impact it’s having on you.
My job is to listen to you and find the best way to tackle the problem. Let us know if you want to have a chat.
Dr James Redwood is a local GP at Doctors of South Melbourne.