1:02 am — a darkened bedroom. Two bodies writhe in a pile of twisted, tortured sheets. The man, chest hairs damp with sweat, turns to the woman and says, “I can’t seem to get an erection.” Unfortunately, it’s pretty typical for guys my age. I wouldn’t worry about it.
You continue explaining, “I find you incredibly attractive. I’m sure the next time we’re in an intimate situation. I’ll be able to achieve and maintain a raging erection. How ’bout we focus on making you feel good?”
If only it were true—am I right, ladies?
What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection for satisfactory sexual performance. And it is extremely common so, don’t freak guys. It affects about 50% of men over 40 and is even more common as men age.
And, contrary to how you might feel while experiencing it, ED isn’t fatal, so, you know, that’s good—right?
What Causes ED?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single cause for ED. It can be due to poor blood flow or sub-optimal hormone levels, obesity, or high blood pressure. It could also be due to psychological causes like depression, severe anxiety, or fear of intimacy. I know, quite a smorgasbord of suspects. It should be stated, however, that physical causes account for 90% of ED cases.
If there’s any silver lining in this, it’s that it’s straightforward to tell if your suffering from ED. If you’re consistently unable to get and/or maintain an erection, guess what? You’re suffering from ED. Another common symptom is a reduced desire to have sex, which, given the whole lack of erection thing, ya know, makes sense. But, as always, to be sure you should visit your doctor.
Let’s Be Sure, Shall We?
The first thing your doctor will do is conduct a detailed medical exam. They might also run some lab tests to determine the cause of your ED. These might include:
- Complete blood count
- Urine test
- Fasting blood glucose test
- Lipid profile
- Morning serum testosterone test
Since psychologic conditions might also be contributing to your ED, your doctor may recommend an interview with a psychologist that focuses on sexual problems, partner relationships, and any psychiatric symptoms you may be experiencing.
Rest easy, boys. There are many effective treatments available to men with ED.
Known as PDE5 inhibitors, they increase penile blood flow and are the only oral agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Well-known brands include:
- Viagra® (sildenafil citrate)
- Levitra® (vardenafil HCl)
- Cialis® (tadalafil)
- Stendra® (avanafil)
It should be noted that men taking nitrates for their heart should NOT take any PDE5 inhibitors.
In those rare cases where a low sex drive and low blood levels of Testosterone are at fault for ED, Testosterone Therapy may fix normal erections or help when combined with ED drugs (PDE5 inhibitors).
Vacuum Erection Device
A vacuum erection device is a plastic tube that slips over the penis, making a seal with the skin of the body. A pump at the other end of the tube makes a low-pressure vacuum around the erectile tissue, which results in an erection.
Intracavernosal (ICI) and Urethra (IU) Therapies
If oral drugs don’t work, the drug Alprostadil is approved for use in men with ED. This drug comes in two forms, based on how it is to be used: intracavernosal injection (called “ICI”) or through the urethra (called “IU therapy”).
A Note from GR8NESS
While the subject of ED tends to incite giggles and blushed cheeks, it’s a condition that should be treated like any other medical issue, with the appropriate level of respect and attention. Left untreated, ED not only gnaws away at a man’s psyche, thereby exacerbating the problem, but can also lead to relationship problems with your partner. It’s common, it’s treatable, and it most definitely doesn’t need to ruin your sex life.