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Erectile dysfunction is when a man can't get an erection to have sex or can't keep an erection long enough to finish having sex. (It used to be called impotence). Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 75 years of age.
Having erection trouble from time to time isn't necessarily a cause for concern. But if erectile dysfunction is an ongoing problem, it may cause stress, cause relationship problems or affect your self-confidence.
Is erectile dysfunction just a part of old age?
Erectile dysfunction doesn't have to be a part of getting older. It's true that as you get older, you may need more stimulation (such as stroking and touching) to get an erection. You might also need more time between erections. But older men should still be able to get an erection.
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health problems can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical problem that slows your sexual response may cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction
In most cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
High blood pressure
Metabolic syndrome, a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
Peyronie's disease, development of scar tissue inside the penis
Certain prescription medications
Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction
The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns
For many men, erectile dysfunction is caused or worsened by lifestyle choices. Here are some things you can do that may help:
If you smoke, quit. If you have trouble quitting, get help. Try nicotine replacement (such as gum or lozenges), available over-the-counter, or ask your doctor about prescription medication that can help you quit.
Lose weight. Being overweight can cause - or worsen - erectile dysfunction.
Get regular exercise. This can help with underlying problems that play a part in erectile dysfunction in a number of ways, including reducing stress, helping you lose weight and increasing blood flow.
Get treatment for alcohol or drug problems. Drinking too much or taking certain illegal drugs can worsen erectile dysfunction directly or by causing long-term health problems.
Work through relationship issues. Improve communication with your partner and consider couples or marriage counseling if you're having trouble working through problems on your own.
Whether the cause is physical, psychological or a combination of both, erectile dysfunction can become a source of mental and emotional stress for you and your partner. Here are some things you can do:
Don't assume you have a long-term problem. Don't view occasional erection problems as a reflection on your health or masculinity, and don't automatically expect to have erection trouble again during your next sexual encounter. This can cause anxiety, which may make erectile dysfunction worse.
Involve your sexual partner. Your partner may see your inability to have an erection as a sign of diminished sexual interest. Your reassurance that this is not the case can help. Communicate openly and honestly about your condition. Treatment is often more successful when a man involves his partner.
Don't ignore stress, anxiety or mental health problems. Talk to your doctor, or see a mental health provider to address these issues.
A physical exam and answering questions (medical history) are all that's needed before a doctor is ready to recommend a treatment. If your doctor suspects that underlying problems may be involved, or you have chronic health problems, you may need further tests or you may need to see a specialist.
Tests for underlying problems may include:
Physical exam. This may include careful examination of your penis and testicles and checking your nerves for feeling.
Blood tests. A sample of your blood may be sent to a lab to check for signs of heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone levels and other health problems.
Urine tests (urinalysis). Like blood tests, urine tests are used to look for signs of diabetes and other underlying health conditions.
Ultrasound. This test can check blood flow to your penis. It involves using a wand-like device (transducer) held over the blood vessels that supply the penis. It creates a video image to let your doctor see if you have blood flow problems. This test is sometimes done in combination with an injection of medications into the penis to determine if blood flow increases normally.
Overnight erection test. Most men have erections during sleep without remembering them. This simple test involves wrapping special tape around your penis before you go to bed. If the tape is separated in the morning, your penis was erect at some time during the night. This indicates the cause of your erectile dysfunction is most likely psychological and not physical.
Psychological exam. Your doctor may ask you questions to screen for depression and other possible psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.
Exercise may be the ticket to a more active sex life. Research shows that even a little bit of physical activity - the equivalent of walking 30 minutes a day a few times a week - may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Why is exercise such an effective remedy for preventing erectile dysfunction?
The key to all of this is the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels that helps blood flow smoothly. Regular exercise has been shown to improve the way the endothelium works. The endothelium lines the blood vessels in the heart and the penis, but the blood vessels in the penis are about one-third the size of those in the heart. So if you fail to have erections due to vascular problems, that indicatesindicate that you might be u're at risk for heart problems as well please consult your doctor to understand more.
The bottom line is that taking steps to keep your endothelium healthy will help you prevent or reduce your erectile dysfunction risk. Being more physically active is important to the health of your endothelium and, therefore, to the health of your heart and your penis.
The benefits of exercise for your blood vessels last only as long as you keep exercising on a regular basis. Experts recommend that men who want to prevent impotence make a long-term commitment to exercise. Here are some tips to remember:
Choose activities you enjoy. Your exercise program doesn't have to be elaborate. In fact, studies have shown that just walking briskly every day for at least three months significantly improves the health of your blood vessels.
Spice it up with weight training. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, and jogging, is good for your blood vessels, but resistance training has been shown to improve endothelial function as well.
Don't let your age stop you. Erectile dysfunction is more common as men get older, but at the same time, habitual exercise has been shown to fight the effects of age on blood vessels.
Check in with your doctor if you haven't been physically active in a while. It's a good idea to get your doctor's approval - and maybe some additional exercise tips - if you're starting an exercise program from scratch.
Cut down on smoking, alcohol, and illegal drug use.
Get plenty of rest and take time to relax.
Exercise and eat a healthy diet to keep good blood circulation.
Use safe sex practices to prevent HIV and STDs.
Talk openly to your partner about sex and your relationship. If you cannot do this, counseling can help.
Couples who cannot talk to each other are likely to have problems with sexual intimacy. Men who have trouble talking about their feelings may find it hard to share their anxiety about sexual performance. Counseling can help both you and your partner.
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health problems you have. Here are some things you can do:
Work with your doctor to manage diabetes, heart disease or other chronic health problems.
See your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening tests.
Stop smoking, limit or avoid alcohol, and don't use street drugs.
Plan a diet with help of your doctor and nutrition expert. A diet which good for the heart and overall health is suited to prevent and cure ED. A balanced eating plan will make you feel energetic and stress free.
Base your healthy eating plan around a variety of foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and cereals. It is recommended that you eat five portions of fruit or vegetables every day and drink plenty of water.
Low-fat protein foods such as lean cuts of meat, poultry, and fish particularly oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Whole grain foods such as whole grain bread, bran, brown rice, and oats. These foods are also high in fiber, which helps improve the function of the digestive system.
Fresh fruits and vegetables. They contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which will help to keep your body healthy and fight infections.
Foods containing high levels of potassium, like bananas, oranges, tomatoes, asparagus, and potatoes.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Adequate hydration keeps mucus thin and makes it easier to cough up.
Losing weight can help in managing asthma, and combined with a more active lifestyle, can also help to improve lung function.
Too much salt causes water retention, and high blood pressure. Be sure to check the labels of the foods you buy and avoid any containing more than 300 mg of sodium per serving.
Sample Diet Plan (patient with asthma) - title wrong or plan to be changed
Do not add SALT while cooking or as seasoning.
Life Long Instructions
Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.
Limiting sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can promote health and reduce stress. Take your diet and exercise plan seriously.