But, if this problem becomes frequent or lasts a long time, you should see your doctor.
There are many causes of ED. Sometimes, the culprit is another health issue.
Understanding the signs and causes of ED is the first step toward achievinga better sex life.
Common Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction
If you have ED, you might experience:
- Trouble getting an erection
- Trouble keeping an erection for a long enough period of time
- Reduced sex drive
- Feelings of embarrassment or guilt
- Low self-esteem
Symptoms of Other Sexual Disorders
- Premature ejaculation (ejaculating too soon)
- Delayed ejaculation (when ejaculation takes too long)
- The inability to have an orgasm after sufficient stimulation
When Should You See a Doctor About ED?
Some men are too embarrassed to tell their doctors about their symptoms. Remember, your healthcare provider’s job is to help you find a successful treatment plan for your condition and to listen to your concerns.
Your primary care physician is a good place to start. At some point, you might be referred to a urologist – a doctor who specializes in conditions involving the urinary tract and the male reproductive system.
What Should You Tell Your Doctor About Symptoms?
When talking to your doctor, be as open and honest about your symptoms as possible. Tell your healthcare provider how often you have symptoms and how long you’ve had them.
You should also tell your physician:
- About all the medications you take
- If you have any other health conditions
- If you drink alcohol or use tobacco products
Additionally, it’s a good idea to share about any life changes/stressors that could be affecting your mental health, such as the death of a loved one, a job change, the birth of a child, or trouble in your relationship.
Why Do Symptoms Happen?
An erection occurs when blood fills the penis. Normally, when a man becomes sexually aroused, blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and hormones work together to create an erection. Symptoms of ED can occur when this process is disrupted.
Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
ED is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors. Often, there’s not just one issue that’s responsible for ED.
Other medical conditions can cause ED symptoms. Common physical causes include:
- Heart disease or atherosclerosis (inflammation and narrowing of the arteries)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome (a cluster of risk factors that includes high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and increased body fat around the waist)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- A brain or spinal cord injury
- Chronic kidney disease
- Nerve disorders
- Hypogonadism(a condition where the body doesn’t make enough testosterone)
- Peyronie’s disease(scar tissue inside the penis)
- Sleep disorders
Tell your doctor if you have any of these problems and have signs of ED.
Medications That May Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction
Certain prescription medicines can cause ED, too. These may include:
- Diuretics (pills that cause increase urine flow)
- High blood pressure meds
- Parkinson’s disease drugs
- Antiarrhythmics (drugs for irregular heart problems)
- Tranquilizers and sedatives
- Muscle relaxants
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Histamine H2-receptor antagonists
- Chemotherapy medications
- Prostate cancer drugs
- Anti-seizure medications
It’s important to tell your doctor about all the drugs you take, so he can determine if any of your meds could be to blame for your symptoms.
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Psychological factors that may lead to ED include:
- Other mental health disorders
- Feeling self-conscious or nervous about sex
- Relationship problems
Often, psychological problems accompany medical conditions.
The Role of Hormones in Erectile Dysfunction
Sometimes, ED happens when your hormones are out of balance. Your doctor can perform a blood test to check your hormones.
Other Factors to Consider Regarding ED
ED can also be caused by tobacco or alcohol use.
Additionally, surgeries or procedures that target the spinal cord or pelvic area can lead to ED. Radiation therapy to the testicles can also cause impotence.
Erectile Dysfunction and Other Conditions
Because symptoms of ED are often a sign of another health condition, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Your doctor might discover a more serious issue that needs to be addressed. Diagnosis and treatment of an underlying medical condition could help improve your symptoms of ED.
By Julie Marks
- Mayo Clinic: Erectile Dysfunction.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH): Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction.
- Cleveland Clinic: Sexual Dysfunction in Males.
- Cleveland Clinic: Erectile Dysfunction.