Erectile dysfunction or impotence is a sexual disorder faced by men which makes them unable to keep or achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. This condition can be purely psychological or a result of an underlying disease that needs to be rectified.
Erectile dysfunction can be due to a variety of causes, both physical and psychological:
- Heart disease
- Blocked arteries
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Parkinson’s disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Alcoholism or smoking
- Relationship issues
Occasional difficulty in maintaining an erection is not abnormal. However, persistent inability, which creates stress and strain on personal relationships and behavior needs to be evaluated by a physician. Following are the three main symptoms of this condition:
- Trouble getting an erection
- Trouble keeping an erection
- Reduced sexual desire
Erectile dysfunction may also be a manifestation of cardiac or diabetic complication.
Usually, thorough personal history and physical exam are all that is required to diagnose erectile dysfunction. If underlying diseases or co-existing chronic health conditions are suspected, following tests can be used to pinpoint the diagnosis:
- Blood tests, urine tests, etc.
- Psychological evaluation
It is important to discontinue or modify the intake of any medication that might be causing this condition. Medication to improve this condition belongs to the class of vasodilators (sildenafil, tadalafil, etc.) These medications cannot be used by people suffering from heart conditions or if already taking drugs that contain nitrogen. Exercise and counseling are also two methods that can be used.