Erectile Dysfunction: Diagnosis, Causes, Consequences And Symptoms

Erectile Dysfunction: Diagnosis, Causes, Consequences And Symptoms

Erectile dysfunction is an erectile disorder where the man is unable to obtain and / or maintain a satisfactory erection during the sexual act. This phenomenon can appear at any age and the causes are multiple. We explain in more detail the diagnosis to be able to detect them as well as the problems underlying erectile dysfunction.

1 What is erectile dysfunction?
2 Causes and aggravating factors of erectile dysfunction
3 How to diagnose erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction what is it?

Erectile dysfunction, also called male impotence, is a phenomenon during which the man finds himself unable to obtain or maintain an erection despite often present sexual excitement and desire (source). There are several types of erectile dysfunction:

The total absence of erection during sexual intercourse and/or during other times of the day and night: erection impossible. – Weak erection: the penis hardens but not enough to have a satisfactory sexual relationship: soft erection. – Difficulty maintaining an erection: the penis hardens correctly but returns to a flaccid state during the act. – Erection problems during the sexual act despite a good quality of morning or night erection.

Attention, it is important to make the difference between breakdown and erectile dysfunction. Indeed, these phenomena can occur punctually but do not necessarily mean that you are subject to an erectile disorder. Indeed, to be considered pathological, the disorder must (source):

Be recurrent: the problem arises during each sexual act. – Present over the long term: the erectile dysfunction has been present for more than 90 days.

Note that other disorders related to erection, are not considered strictly speaking as erectile dysfunction: this is the case of priapism, which is an erection lasting more than 4 hours, or involuntary erection.

The causes and aggravating factors of erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a common phenomenon that affects between 11% and 44% of the male population (source). The causes are varied. Here are the main factors that can predispose to erectile dysfunction.

Cardiovascular illnesses

Given how an erection works, it is understandable that cardiovascular disease can cause impotence. Indeed, the absence of an erection can be associated with poor blood circulation in the penis. Erectile dysfunction is one of the first symptoms of cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease, hyperlipidemia or even peripheral vascular disorders such as arteriosclerosis (source).

Thus, in the event of erectile dysfunction, the health professional will examine your cardiac history and your potential predispositions. If your profile seems to indicate a possible heart disease, your attending physician will refer you to a cardiologist in order to carry out additional examinations.

Type 2 diabetes

It is estimated between 35 and 75% of diabetic patients suffer from erectile dysfunction (source). Indeed, type II diabetes is a disease characterized by insulin resistance and an increase in blood sugar levels. This pathology is often diagnosed late and around 9 to 12 years after the onset of the disease. The complications associated with type 2 diabetes are often irreversible. Thus, it is important to detect the pathology as soon as possible in order to minimize the inconveniences underlying the disease.

Erectile dysfunction is one of the predominant symptoms of type 2 diabetes and is often the consequence of vascular damage, hormonal imbalance and endothelial dysfunction (source).

anxiety and depression

Depression and anxiety are neurological disorders that can promote the onset of erectile dysfunction (source). Nevertheless, it is still difficult to determine the causal relationship between these disorders and impotence (source). Yet studies have shown the relationship between depression and erectile dysfunction. Thus, it has been proven that 90% of people with severe depression were prone to impotence as well as 59% in moderate-grade depressives (source).

Benign prostatic hypertrophy

Benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostatic adenoma is a benign tumour. This will consequently considerably increase the volume of the prostate. If this tumor is said to be benign, it can cause certain complications such as erectile dysfunction. This has the consequence of lowering the quality of life and sexual relations of patients (source). While prostate hyperplasia can cause impotence in approximately 19.2% of cases, it can also promote the appearance of priapism.

Neurological conditions

Brain damage can also be the reason for erectile dysfunction. Several studies have correlated impotence and certain cerebral pathologies such as spinal cord lesions, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or the neurodegenerative diseases Parkinson's and Alzheimer's (source).

Drug treatments

Many drug treatments can have sexual dysfunction as a side effect such as libido disorder, ejaculation disorder or sexual impotence. The drugs incriminated are numerous, and the majority aim to treat pathologies themselves related to erectile dysfunction. Among these treatments there are (source):

Psychotropic antidepressantsBeta blockers ( against hypertension) Vasodilators AntihistaminesHypoglycemics (for type 2 diabetes).

Surgery and radiotherapy

Surgical procedures such as surgery for prostate cancer can also cause erectile dysfunction. Indeed, this type of operation aims to eliminate cancerous cells present in the prostate. However, this trauma can cause in many cases a temporary disappearance of the erection. Thus, in this case, you will need to talk about it with your surgeon and follow the evolution of your sexual dysfunction. In most cases, this type of disorder is temporary (source).

Also, radiotherapy, performed to fight against certain types of cancer can cause loss of erection. This is often due to radiation that disrupts the vascularization of the penis. Typically, this problem is temporary (source).

How to diagnose erectile dysfunction?

First of all, and before going to see a specialist, you will need to know if your problem is one-time or recurring for this you will need to look at:

Duration: erectile dysfunction is considered as such when the disorder lasts for more than 90 days. – The frequency: impotence is recurrent. Thus, you will need to observe the frequency of the disorder. In some people the dysfunction is present during every sexual act, in other patients the problem comes back every other time.

If you meet the main criteria for erectile dysfunction, it is strongly advised to consult a health professional quickly. Indeed, this phenomenon is often symptomatic of another disease and it is important to treat the disorder as soon as possible to increase the chances of resolving it.

Talking to your doctor about erectile dysfunction is not always easy, however. But as we have seen, the phycological consequences and the impacts on sexual life and daily life can be too great not to treat this disorder. It may be advisable to go see a specialist, such as a sexologist, with whom it will then be easier for you to approach the subject.

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