Experts have estimated that approximately 30 million American men experience the symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED). This is no small matter. By affecting a man’s ability to obtain and maintain an erection, erectile dysfunction can substantially degrade a man’s sense of well-being. Many men who are living with ED struggle with feelings of embarrassment and helplessness. This doesn’t have to be the case. Help can be found in the doctor’s office.
How Erectile Dysfunction is Diagnosed
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction involves more than a physical examination. Several factors may trigger or worsen this problem, including certain medications, smoking, alcohol consumption, and the use of recreational drugs. These are important topics of discussion between a man and his doctor. Complete honesty is necessary to uncover the nature of erectile dysfunction and to develop an appropriate course of action.
In addition to asking about general health and lifestyle, doctors ask patients questions such as:
- Does a morning erection occur?
- Are there also difficulties with sex drive, orgasm, or ejaculation?
- Are there any urinary problems, such as difficulty starting or stopping flow?
- Do erections change in different situations, such as masturbation vs. sexual intercourse?
- How firm are erections when they do occur?
- Whether or not stressful situations are occurring at the moment.
- If treatment for depression is ongoing, or if depressed feelings exist.
- If any changes have occurred with sex or with relationship status.
ED: What Goes Wrong
The process of obtaining an erection seems simple. However, there are a lot of cogs in this wheel. An erection occurs when nerves within the brain release chemicals that affect blood flow to the penis. There are several opportunities for breakdown to influence this process. In some cases, it is impaired nerve impulses in the brain. Sometimes, inadequate blood flow is the issue. In approximately one-quarter of cases, medication is to blame for erectile dysfunction. Because erectile dysfunction largely affects older men, we also recognize that hormones play a role in this condition.
Erectile dysfunction can have a dramatic effect on a man’s relationship and his life, but help is available. Men who are experiencing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction may speak with their general healthcare provider and also to an experienced urologist. To reach UT Urology for a consultation, call (423) 778-5910.