Prevention & management of erectile dysfunction
Many men may experience difficulty in getting aroused for sexual intercourse once in a while at some point of their lives. Having trouble with erection from time to time is not necessarily something to worry about. However, if the trouble persists, it might indicate erectile dysfunction or impotence.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction or impotence is defined as the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. It can be a short or long-term problem. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should get a medical consultation to rule out ED.
- If you can get an erection at times but not every time you wish to have intercourse
- If you can get an erection but it does not last long enough for satisfactory sex
- If you are unable to get an erection ever
For a very long time, ED or impotence was brushed under the carpet as patients found it difficult and embarrassing to open up to their doctors, family or friends. “How to manage erectile dysfunction?” this is the burning question that many afflicted men find tough to ask. In this article, we answer some common questions about this sexual disorder and explore medical treatments and home remedies for erectile dysfunction.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Sexual arousal is an extremely complex process. Hormone levels, brain function, emotional state, muscle strength are just some of the factors which impact erections. Erectile dysfunction can be caused due to health conditions, lifestyle habits, psychological issues or a combination of the above.
In order to identify the cause of ED in any patient, the causes of ED are classified into two broad categories: Physiological causes of ED & Psychological causes of ED.
Physiological causes of ED
- If there is the insufficient blood supply to the penis due to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hardened arteries, smoking etc
- If the penis cannot hold blood during an erection due to any reason
- If the nerve signals from the brain or spine don’t reach the penis due to any injury or medical condition
- If the patient is obese with/without complications related to obesity
- If the patient is undergoing cancer treatments especially near the pelvic region
- If the patient is on any medication that is known to affect sexual health
- If the patient has any nerve damage or small vessel disease due to diabetes
Psychological causes of ED
- Other mental health disorders
Lifestyle causes of ED
- Smoking/tobacco consumption
- Consuming narcotic substances
- Lack of physical activity
Is there a cure for ED?
Treatment protocol for erectile dysfunction involves treating the underlying cause of ED. Basically, erectile dysfunction cure depends on what is causing the condition in that particular individual. The cause is identified with the help of detailed medical examination, including the patient’s medical history and psychological analysis.
Depending on the cause of ED, the doctor can recommend any of the following treatments:
- Oral medications – these are extremely common forms of treatment for erectile dysfunction. Prescription medications are used to help the patient get and maintain an erection. The dosage is decided based on the severity of the condition as well as the general health of the patient. This form of treatment does not work for everyone, especially if they have undergone any prostate surgery or have diabetes. These medications should be used with extreme caution.
- Other medications – medications such as Alprostadil self-injection, Alprostadil urethral suppository and testosterone replacement therapy are also used in some cases as effective ways to manage ED.
- Penis pump – A penis pump as the name suggests is a device which may be hand or battery-powered that uses vacuum suction to pull blood into the penis. Once the erection is achieved, the device is removed and a tension ring is placed at the base of the penis to hold the blood in and keep the penis firm. The erection generally lasts long enough for sexual intercourse. Possible side effects include bruising and restricted ejaculation amongst others.
- Penile implants – This form of treatment involves surgically placing inflatable or bendable rods on either side of the penis. This treatment method is generally considered the last resort if all other treatments for ED prove ineffective.
What are some erectile dysfunction exercises that can help manage the condition?
Kegel exercises are known to have a positive impact on erectile dysfunction. They help in strengthening pelvic floor muscles. In men, strengthening these muscles stimulates blood flow into the penis when sexually aroused, resulting in longer and more satisfying erections. Ideally, Kegel exercises should be performed multiple times every day.
Other exercises for ED include Pilates and aerobic exercises such as boxing, cycling, running etc. While Pilates strengthens your core muscles, aerobic exercises help in maintaining your cardiac health and improving blood circulation in the body.
Exercise also helps in regulating the mood. Hence, it is especially important for people facing problems with erections due to any psychological issues such as depression or anxiety.
What are the foods for erectile dysfunction that can reduce the symptoms?
“You are what you eat”, this stands true for all of us. Studies show that consuming more natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, etc and limiting your consumption of processed foods and meat can reduce the risk of having erectile dysfunction.
What are the lifestyle changes that can prevent erectile dysfunction?
Being excessively sedentary, smoking, use of narcotic substances, consumption of too much alcohol etc are all lifestyle factors that can contribute towards increasing the likelihood of erectile dysfunction. If you consume tobacco in any form, quit now. If you are obese or overweight, getting your weight under control can also help in preventing erectile dysfunction. Follow a healthy balanced diet, exercise and keep your body physically fit to lead a healthy life.
For additional information about any men’s health condition, you can speak to our expert urologist & andrologist. Book your visit today at the CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon.
Also, read: Premature ejaculation-causes and symptoms