Erectile discomfort (also commonly known as erectile dysfunction) is a condition where in a man is unable to produce or sustain an erection. It is a complicated condition and because of the abundance of possible causes, it can become difficult to treat. Another common problem is that men are often embarrassed to admit to erectile discomfort which makes treatment impossible in their case.
It should be noted that erectile discomfort is not a natural development that can be associated with old age. If you are experiencing such a dysfunction, you need to inform your physician because it can be a symptom of an even graver ailment like prostate cancer.
How does an Erection occur in the first place?
The primary cause of an erection is the inflow of blood into the penis. This is normally a reaction to either a physical (touching or stroking) or mental (something that the person finds arousing) stimulation. Once erect, the penis can hold in about 10 times more blood than it normally can when it is flaccid.
An erection is sustained because pressure from the penis constricts the veins making it harder for the blood to flow out.
What Causes Erectile Discomfort?
There are many things that can cause erectile discomfort. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Too much smoking (tobacco use)
- A stroke
- Stress and/or anxiety
- Poor self confidence
- High blood sugar or diabetes
- Medication that causes erectile dysfunction as a side effect
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Vascular disease (can cause reduced blood flow into the penis)
- Imbalance of Hormones (testosterone deficiency)
- Spinal cord and brain related injuries (can affect nerve impulse transfers to the penis)
- Pelvic trauma
- Surgery of the pelvic area (might have damaged the nerves and blood vessels)
- Radiation therapy (can damage the nerves)
Depending on the particular cause of the erectile discomfort, a different treatment will be necessary.
Diagnosing Erectile Discomfort
Since emotions and self image can also become a cause of erectile discomfort, initial diagnosis is very important before a proper treatment can be prescribed. Constant and open communication with a physician for weeks to even several months is necessary to accurately determine if the erectile discomfort is long term.
It is necessary that a process of elimination be done to determine the cause of the dysfunction. The physician has to narrow it down to the primary cause or causes, be they physiological, psychological or emotional.
Imaging tests – is conducted to check if there are any physical abnormalities in the organs that are necessary for erection. This is usually done with an X-ray or an Ultrasound machine. Typical areas that need to be checked are the bones, the testes and the penis itself.
Psychosocial examination – is conducted if the erectile discomfort is caused by an emotional or psychological problem. This is done through interviews and questioners. The sexual partner of the patient is also interviewed to determine if the partner’s expectations might have been the cause of an abnormal emotional development.
How is Erectile Discomfort Treated?
The type of treatment used is dependent on the cause. Common methods involve:
- Improving one’s lifestyle by eating healthy and giving up smoking/alcohol
- Ingestion of erection inducing drugs like Viagra
- Medication inserted directly into the urethra
- Medications injected into the penis (particularly the corpora cavernosa)
- Penile prosthesis
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
- Vacuum devices which draws blood into the penis
Alternative Remedies for Erectile Discomfort
For those who prefer to take an alternative route from the treatments mentioned above, there are several options available.
Acupuncture – involves the insertion needles into certain key places of the body to relieve stress and pain. Studies conducted have shown that it can improve an impotent person’s condition as well. Whether this is merely a placebo effect or a result of proper manipulation of the body’s nerve impulses with the use of needles is still under debate.
There are also a number of herbal remedies that contain certain nutrients that can improve one’s condition.
- Horny goat weed is said to increase testosterone levels.
- Ginseng is said to increase blood flow into the penis by relaxing the blood vessels.
- Yohimbe is FDA approved and works by helping dilate small blood vessels in the penis. It can also be injected directly into the penis for an immediate effect.