Sleeping disorders can cause erectile dysfunction

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Health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain are some of the common causes of erectile dysfunction. Read on to know more.

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that affects men globally. In fact, its incidence increases with age. In India, erectile dysfunction affects as much as 15 percent of the total male population.

This statistic provided by the findings of Alpha One Andrology Group, Delhi, also states that nearly 52 percent men who are above the age of 40 and 10 percent below the age 40 years are affected by it.

Definition

Erectile dysfunction is a man’s inability to achieve and maintain a good erection for intercourse. Experiencing this condition from time to time is not really alarming. However, if it becomes an ongoing issue, then it could affect a man’s sexual relationship and self-esteem, and it may indicate an underlying health issue.

Dr Malpani, medical director at Malpani Infertility Clinic, Mumbai, tells theIndusparent.com: “Men suffer from erectile dysfunction because of medications, diseases, surgical complications, psychological problems, and lifestyle imbalances.”

He lists the various types of erectile dysfunction that men could experience:

  • Premature ejaculation: It is one of the most common types of dysfunctions. “Sometimes it is so severe that the man is unable to deposit the semen in the vagina. This is because he ejaculates before entry into the vagina,” says Dr Malpani.
  • Delayed ejaculation: In this type of dysfunction, a man could take a long time to ejaculate. “It happens if he or his wife gets tired before he can deposit the semen intravaginally,” he says.
  • Anorgasmic ejaculation: In this type of dysfunction, the man is unable to ejaculate.
  • Retrograde ejaculation: In this type of dysfunction, the semen is forced backwards into the bladder, instead of being pushed forward through the urethra.

A specialist can look into these types of erectile dysfunctions if you can identify their symptoms.

erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is one of the major causes of stressed physical relationships

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

A man could experience erectile dysfunction due to various physical and psychological issues. However, in order to understand the problem, it must be caught from the root.

The only way to do that is to raise the alarm if the following situations happen:

  • You often have trouble getting an erection
  • You have trouble maintaining an erection during intercourse
  • You have noticed reduced sexual desire
  • You are experiencing other sexual problems including ejaculatory dysfunction

Continue reading to know the causes of erectile dysfunction

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Once the symptoms are identifiable, it is best to approach a specialist who can point at the exact cause of this condition. Since male sexual arousal is a combination of the mental, physical and psychological processes, its dysfunction could be related to any of these.

Physical Causes

In most cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by any of the following 17 factors:

  • Heart diseases
  • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Peyronie’s disease (development of scar tissue inside the penis)
  • Metabolic syndrome (a condition that involved high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, insulin levels and fat around the waist)
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism and/or various forms of substance abuse
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Surgeries or injuries that have affected the spinal cord or the pelvic area
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Certain prescription medications

Psychological Causes

Apart from the physical causes, erectile dysfunction could also occur due to various psychological causes. That’s because the brain also plays a major role in arousing the male sexual organ. A man is unable to feel arousal due to the following reasons:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression and other mental health conditions
  • Poor communication
  • Age-related stress and lifestyle problems

The result of these complications could lead to the following issues:

  • Unsatisfactory sex life
  • Stress and anxiety over this condition
  • Lack of self- confidence and low self-esteem
  • Complications in relationships
  • Infertility

What to Ask the Doctor

If you identify the symptoms of erectile dysfunction and decide to visit a specialist, then you must go in prepared. You can follow the given checklist:

  • Plan the doctor’s appointment well in advance: Ask the doctor what he needs you to do before he conducts the test. For instance, you may be asked to do a fasting or non-fasting test. So ask before you go.
  • List out the symptoms: Prepare a list of symptoms you may have come across and also the one’s that may not be related to erectile dysfunction
  • List out personal information: You must list down the recent developments or issues that are creating a stressful environment in your life
  • Prepare a list of medications: You may have been prescribed certain medications due to certain illness in the past. Make a list of those prescriptions.
  • Take your partner for the consultation: Your partner is your support system and somebody who understands what you may be going through. In addition, she might remember instances you may have forgotten.
erectile dysfunction

Involving your partner for physical and psychological support can help you to recover faster

Also remember to prepare a list of questions to understand what kind of tests would be required for your condition. Since you may not get a lot of time with the specialist, here’s what you can ask:

  • What are the causes of my erectile dysfunction?
  • Are these symptoms enough to identify the root cause of the problem?
  • What kinds of tests should I go for?
  • Is this condition temporary or chronic?
  • What is the best treatment?
  • Are there any alternative therapies to treat erectile dysfunction?
  • How can I manage other health conditions with this condition?
  • Should I follow any restrictions?
  • What is the cost of treatments, and will my insurance cover them?

Once you have spoken to the specialist about these issues, there is a likely chance you will undergo prescribed tests and diagnosis.

Continue reading to know more about the tests and diagnosis of erectile dysfunction

Tests and Diagnosis

In order to treat erectile dysfunction, identifying the symptoms is not enough. You need to consult a specialist depending upon the type of erectile dysfunction. You can either consult a doctor who specializes in male genital problems (urologist) or one that specializes in the hormonal systems (endocrinologist).

For many men, answering just a few questions could help the doctor diagnose erectile dysfunction. However, you will have to go though the following basic tests to first understand the extent of the problem:

  • Physical exam: The doctor will begin with a physical examination. This involves a physical check of the penis and testicles, as well as nerve sensations around the genitalia.
  • Blood test: A blood sample could be tested for diabetes, low levels of testosterone or any other health condition.
  • Urine test: A urinalysis or a urine test is conducted for similar reasons as the blood test. You would be tested for diabetes and underlying health conditions.
  • Ultrasound: This test is conducted to identify blood flow problems to the penis. A transducer (wandlike stick) is held over the blood vessels that supply to the penis. This would create a video from which the specialist can identify blockages in the blood vessels. This test can also be given with a combination of injection to the penis that stimulates it for an erection.
  • Overnight erection test: This test is done to understand the number of erections you may have overnight. Here, a machine-like device is attached to the penis and it registers the number of times you have an erection. This test is conducted to understand if erectile dysfunction is due to psychological or physical reasons.
  • Psychological exam: Your doctor would prepare a set of questions for you to answer during this test. With these questions, the doctor can identify problems of depression, stress, anxiety or any other psychological problems you may be going through.

Once the process of testing is over, you would be prescribed certain drugs and medicines.

erectile dysfunction

Medical tests including blood tests, urine tests and ultrasound can indicate possible erectile dysfunction issue

Treatments and Drugs

Dr Malpani, medical director at Malpani Infertility Clinic, Mumbai, lists the many options for treatment that you can discuss with your doctor:

  • Opt for medications: If you are facing erectile dysfunction then you can opt for oral medications like Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis), Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn) or Avanafil (Stendra). “These can be effective in case of performance anxiety or if the blood flow is poor,” says Dr Malpani.
  • Use devices to improve performance: You can use certain vacuum devices (penis pumps), penile implants, squeeze pumps or vibrators to improve sexual performance. There is also an option of blood vessel surgery such as vascular stenting or bypass procedure. But this is in the most severe
  • Opt for psychological counseling: You could also opt for counseling since it helps those going through relationship or emotional problems. “Remember, that such problems play an important role in your male erectile dysfunction problems,” he says.

Apart from these medical treatments, you must make amends in your daily lifestyle routine. Here are five changes you can make:

  • Kicking the butt: You have probably heard this before, but that’s because it is true. You should quit smoking and get that nicotine level down.
  • Lose weight: If you have out on excess weight, get on a strict diet plan and shed those extra kilos that are hindering your erectile function. It puts extra pressure on your body and can even worsen this condition.
  • Exercise daily: Make it a point to keep your body fit and healthy by exercising daily. It helps control the underlying health problems such as weight and even stress that are known to cause erectile dysfunction.
  • Get help for alcohol or drug abuse: If you are an alcoholic or have had the problem of drug abuse, then know that both of these can cause erectile dysfunction. Both these problem greatly affect blood vessel that may or may not reach the penis. They can also cause long-term health problems.
  • Get psychological counseling: You must sort out pending psychological issues with your partner or in life, in general.

Always remember that whether erectile dysfunction is caused by physical or psychological problems, it can become a major source of stress in your life. Remember to not assume that this is a permanent problem because it can be cured. Also, involve your partner at every step so they know what you may be going through.

Finally, do not ignore signs of stress and anxiety. It could be an alarm to something as serious as erectile dysfunction.

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj