Urologic Conditions & Treatments

Erectile Dysfunction in Chattanooga

erectile dysfunction chattanooga tnFor many men, sexual performance is tied to their self-confidence and self-esteem. That’s why erectile dysfunction, the inability to get and maintain an erection firm enough for sex, can really drag you down. Erectile dysfunction is a common problem for men as they age, but the team at UT Urology in Chattanooga TN can help.

If you suffer from ED, we have different successful treatments to help you overcome it. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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What is Erectile Dysfunction?

To have intercourse, men need to have an erection that is firm enough and they need to maintain that erection. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the term when men cannot get or keep an erection adequate for intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can have physical or psychological causes, or a combination. It is a common condition as men age, increasing with the passing years after the age of 40.

How Does an Erection Form?

As an analogy, you can think of the process of getting an erection as being similar to a garden hose. The hose is soft and pliable when empty. When you turn on the water this changes. The water fills the hose and straightens it. In the penis there are two cylindrical, sponge-like structures that are called the corpora cavernosa. These run the length of the penis and are filled with blood vessels. When a man becomes sexually aroused, nerve impulses increase blood flow into both cylinders. This increased blood flow causes the spongy material in the corpora cavernosa to expand, and this straightens and stiffens the penis. The man now has an erection.

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What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

ED Treatment Chattanooga TNGetting an erection seems like a straightforward process, but it’s actually somewhat complicated, involving physical structures like blood vessels, muscles, and nerves, but also involving complicated psychological functions involving the brain and the hormones. That makes finding a direct causal link somewhat tricky.

One aspect of aging is the constriction of our blood vessels; this restricts the flow of blood to some degree. Both of these factors play a direct role in getting an erection. Some degree of erectile dysfunction, or simply a decline in the man’s erection quality and strength, is completely normal after a man passes his 55th birthday.

Other times, ED is more psychological. If a man is under stress this tends to constrict the body’s blood vessels. Depression limits the ability to become as excited or aroused. Plus, once a man has had a single case of losing an erection, it can then “get in the head” creating more stress on future possible sexual encounters.

In many cases, an initial physical cause, say high blood pressure or a stressful situation at work, is behind the problem. But what starts as a temporary physical cause of an initial episode of ED can then add a psychological aspect where the person now has doubts or confidence issues.

These are some physical reasons that can cause ED:

  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Side effect of certain medications
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disorders
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlargement
  • Natural result of aging

These psychological issues can cause or worsen ED:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems

Can Erectile Dysfunction Be Prevented?

Preventing ED is really not possible, due to its combination of physical and mental factors. The condition is easily treated with medication. However, certain lifestyle changes can go a long way to improving the condition naturally:

  • Managing your diabetes
  • Managing heart disease
  • Managing other chronic conditions
  • Regular exercise
  • Actively reducing stress
  • Stopping smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Treating depression and other mental health issues

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How is Erectile Dysfunction Treated?

erectile dysfunction treatment chattanooga tnAt UT Urology, we have different treatments for ED. After lifestyle modification, the first line of treatment is usually oral medication. These medications all work to enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical in your body that relaxes the muscles in the penis. When these muscles relax, blood flow increases, and you get and maintain an erection.

While these medications are very effective for most men, they aren’t an instant erection producer. Sexual stimulation is needed for the body to release nitric oxide from the nerves in the penis.

These are the four oral medications approved for the treatment of ED:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
  • Avanafil (Stendra)

Some of our UT Urology patients don’t want to use medication for the ED, or they have found they have side effects (see below). They may respond to other treatments. We have the option of direct injections of alprostadil into the base of the penis. Testosterone replacement therapy can also be effective. Vacuum penis pumps pull blood into the penis, creating an erection.

Natural treatments, such as adding vigorous aerobic exercise can solve a person’s ED. So, they can address issues such as stress or obesity.

What are the Side Effects of Treating Erectile Dysfunction?

Lifestyle changes don’t involve side effects. The use of medications to treat ED does come with side effects, however. Erectile dysfunction medications can have these possible side effects: flushing, nasal congestion, headaches, visual changes, backaches, and upset stomach. They can’t be used if the patient is already taking nitrate drugs, has heart disease, or hypotension (very low blood pressure).

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Does Insurance Cover Erectile Dysfunction Treatment?

Coverage of medication such as Viagra for ED varies widely depending on the patient’s insurance carrier. Medicare covers sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio). For more serious physical ED, insurance will often cover treatments such as penis pumps. At UT Urology, we work with your insurance provider to gain the highest level of coverage possible.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

If you are interested in learning more about erectile dysfunction or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced physicians, contact UT Urology today. We proudly serve patients from Chattanooga, Cleveland, East Ridge, TN, and surrounding areas. Call (423) 778-5910 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

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