Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that men often are reluctant to talk about with their doctor — and with their partner. Consequently, men who suffer from ED frequently don’t have important information about its cause and treatment options.
Below are five things that doctors feel everyone should know about erectile dysfunction.
1. ED is very common.
Approximately half of all men 40 and older experience some degree of ED at times or consistently. That can include not getting an erection, not getting the degree of firmness desired, or getting a firm erection but being unable to maintain it as long as desired. It’s up to each man to determine when these issues constitute a problem in their sex life — although they can be a sign of other issues, as explained below.
2. Oral medications can be effective, but there are side effects.
Drugs like Cialis (tadalafil), Viagra (sildenafil), and others are effective for 60–80% of men who use them. They’re generally safe, but you should talk with your doctor about them, especially if you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke. You should also contact your doctor right away if you experience rare side effects like hearing loss, vision loss, or an erection that lasts more than four hours. But the most common side effects — flushing, mild headache, and stuffy nose — are harmless and resolve on their own. As with any medication, you must only take ED medications as directed.
3. ED can be a sign of other health problems.
The blood vessels leading to the penis are small and become blocked sooner than those in other parts of the body if there’s a problem with blood flow. Consequently, ED can be a symptom of a more generalized issue. For instance, men with ED are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as those who don’t have the condition. Other conditions including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, low testosterone, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and others can cause ED, as well.
4. ED medications aren’t your only option.
If you’ve tried medications and have had little or no success with resolving your ED, there are other treatments and approaches your doctor can recommend. For example, you can learn to inject medication directly into your penis. Other options include vacuum pumps and inflatable penile implants.
5. Treating BPH doesn’t have to cause ED.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that causes problems with urinating and other issues. BPH treatments have historically had a risk for causing ED. Two relatively recent advances in treating BPH, called Rezum and UroLift, provide positive results without sexual side effects.
If you’re suffering from ED, the first step in addressing it is getting past your discomfort about discussing it with your doctor. They have this conversation with other patients regularly and understand what you’re going through.
After talking with you about your symptoms, your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine what the possible cause or causes are. They may also ask you to fill out a questionnaire that has questions about the onset of your symptoms, your stress level, the status of any relationships you’re in, etc.
In addition, based on what’s learned initially, they may perform an ultrasound to examine the blood vessels in your penis and additional tests like a nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test, injection test, and urine and blood tests.
The good news is that once you start this process, you’re on your way to resolving the problem in one way or another. And just taking that first step can provide tremendous stress relief.
Learn About Baptist Health’s Urology and Primary Care Services
Baptist Health’s primary care doctors and urologists are trained to diagnose erectile dysfunction, recommend treatments, and perform procedures as needed. If you’re experiencing ED, don’t let it cause you stress or hurt your relationship. Take action by finding a provider and making an appointment today.