Erectile Dysfunction

WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?

ED has been defined as the persistent inability to attain and/or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual performance.  Although ED is not usually perceived as a life-threatening condition, it is closely associated with many important physical conditions and may affect psychosocial health. As such, ED has a significant impact on the quality of life of patients and their partners.

HOW COMMON IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?

A UK study of men aged 18-75 showed a rate of 39% for lifetime erectile dysfunction with a current prevalence of 26%. However, it is estimated up to 50% of men will suffer with the condition at some point in their lives.

HOW IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION DIAGNOSED?

The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) Questionnaire is a useful diagnostic tool, however a cause must be established in order to effectively manage the condition.

CAUSES OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Despite sexual intercourse being a basic human need, obtaining an erection long enough for ejaculation is a complex process that is under hormonal control.

There are numerous physical and psychological factors that can influence it:

  • Cardiovascular disease:
    – Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes
  • Neurological disease:
    – Multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s disease, cerebrovascular disease
  • Hormonal problems:
    – Testosterone deficiency, overactive or underactive thyroid, cushing’s disease
  • Physical abnormalities:
    – Peyronie’s disease
  • Certain medications:
    – Including some antihypertensives, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-androgens, corticosteroids, others including opiates & benzodiazepines
  • Psychological factors:
    – Including acute & chronic stress and/or performance anxiety

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Erectile dysfunction is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, equivalent to that of smoking. Low libido and erectile dysfunction are major symptoms of testosterone deficiency.

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