Erectile dysfunction is the consistent or recurrent inability to acquire or sustain an erection that is sufficient enough for the duration of sexual intercourse.
As men age, they have lower testosterone levels and decreased blood flow to the male sexual organ. The prevalence of erectile dysfunction increases with age with nearly 40% of all men at the age of 70 having the problem. There are many factors that are associated with erectile dysfunction such as being overweight and less active. People who engage in healthier behaviors and maintain an ideal BMI have a lower prevalence of erectile dysfunction than the other subset. Believe it or not, Frequency of sexual encounters can also influence the onset of erectile dysfunction. Studies have shown that men who engage in sexual intercourse less than once per week were twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction. The best predictor of erectile dysfunction is the man’s other medical comorbidities. Diabetes, a disorder associated with poor metabolism of sugar, and cardiovascular disease such as hypertension are some of the strongest predictors of whether a man will develop erectile dysfunction. Close to 60% of men with cardiovascular disease will develop erectile dysfunction within 5 years. A person with Diabetes is at a significantly higher risk for developing erectile dysfunction earlier due to damage of the neuropathways from poor glycemic control.
When the neural pathways are damaged, this damage results in decreased blood flow to the male sexual organ. Other causes include psychogenic disorders such as depression. Bad habits such as smoking and excessively drinking can cause erectile dysfunction with tobacco use being one of the strongest causes. Other less common causes include neurogenic forms such as stroke, spinal cord injury or other organic brain disorders. Finally, there are multiple drugs that can contribute to erectile dysfunction such as antidepressants as well as antihypertensive.
There are multiple treatment options for erectile dysfunction. One of the most common treatments and a very successful pharmaceutical is Viagra. Viagra is a Phoshodiesterase-5 inhibitor and is considered first line treatment. Viagra is the first line treatment because it is easy to use, has a rapid onset, has few side effects and is very effective in treating erectile dysfunction so men can perform during sexual intercourse the way they would like to.
Viagra, generically known as Sildenafil Citrate, acts by inhibiting the Phosphodiesterase enzyme which results in increased nitric oxide induced vasodilation. This increased vasodilation allows for more blood flow which results in an increase in the number and duration of erections in men. It should be noted that these changes will not work without a sufficient environmental and psychological cues from sufficient sexual arousal and stimulation. In other words, you won’t just get a random erection without some sort of stimulation to jump start the process. For the few men that Viagra is not effective, there are still other treatment options for men. Although Viagra is the easiest form of treatment, second line therapies such as vacuum assisted devise and intra-urethral suppositories can be very effective treatments as well. Finally, surgical options such as penile prostheses exist for men who do not respond to any treatments.
I am medical practitioner from Cape Town. My professional interest: new treatments of erectile dysfunction.