Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that plagues approximately 10 percent of men per decade – meaning 50 percent of men in their 50s, and 80 percent in their 80s, have mild to moderate ED. However, nearly 5 percent of men over age 40 and 15 percent of men over 70 suffer complete erectile dysfunction.
So, what are the causes behind the condition? Many diseases can affect the ability to get and maintain an erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse. However, for the condition to be officially classified as ED, there are three main components that must be present:
- Reduction in the desire to have sex
- Trouble getting an erection
- Trouble keeping an erection
If these three conditions are met and it has happened more than a few times, it may be necessary to visit a urologist to try to find the cause.
Physical Causes of ED
Many diseases and medications can play havoc with a man’s ability and desire to have intercourse, including:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
- Cancer and chemotherapy
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Certain emotional and psychological causes can get in the way of achieving an erection such as:
- Fear of sexual failure
- Decreased self-esteem
- Stress over sexual performance
- Stress with life in general
Sometimes even when the cause of ED is a physical one, psychological issues can also form due to performance issues – leading to a vicious cycle. A urologist can help stop this cycle.
How Aging Can Affect the Issue
As men age, testosterone production lowers. This can make a man occasionally unsuccessful at achieving an erection, but this is not actual erectile dysfunction. Older men might just need additional stimulation.
Textbook ED is defined as the inability to keep an erection during sex on a regular basis. If it seems to be happening with recurring and greater frequency, keeping a journal of times when it happened is a good idea – and a urologist will be able to use that information to help diagnose whether it is truly ED or something else.
How ED Is Diagnosed
There are a series of questions a urologist will ask to help determine whether it is indeed a chronic issue and its cause, including:
- How long has it been a problem?
- How often is intercourse possible now, as opposed to in the past?
- How firm is an erection and is penetration possible?
- Do mornings bring an erection about?
- Are there any additional difficulties with sexual desire, arousal, ejaculation, or orgasm?
Once these questions are answered, the doctor may be able to eliminate possible causes and start getting to the root of the problem.
Exam With a Urologist
A urologist will make an assessment of your general and overall health, including a physical exam that is focused on primary and secondary sexual characteristics like body hair, muscle mass, and whether the breasts are enlarged.
Any chronic diseases or conditions that can contribute to ED will need to be ruled out in order to help determine the cause.
Urologist in Nashville
If erectile dysfunction is interfering with your life, do not suffer in silence. Don’t assume it is an acceptable part of aging – it isn’t.