Men's Health Thursday April 14, 2016

10 Facts about Erectile Dysfunction

All In The Mind

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by physical factors that prevent proper blood flow to the penis, but the problem can also be caused by psychological issues. These can stem from problems at home or at work. These psychological issues can include:

  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Sexual boredom
  • Unresolved sexual orientation
  • Conflict with a partner

For young men in particular with ED it is usually assumed that it is caused by psychological issues, however, physiological issues can't be completely ruled out. Therefore it is essential that you seek medical help when experiencing erectile dysfunction, so that you can figure out once and for all what the true cause of your condition is.

Bad Teeth Cause Problems

A study from the Journal Of Sexual Medicine has linked erectile dysfunction to bad oral hygiene. The study discovered that men with ED are three times more likely to have gum disease than men who don't have ED. Periodontal disease and gum disease are potentially factors that allow bacteria into the bloodstream and hinder flow to the penis by damaging blood vessels.

Is Alcohol Consumption an Issue?

Alcohol consumption is proven to be a highly common cause of temporary erectile dysfunction. The reason for this is that alcohol can influence communication within the nervous system. As an erection depends on a fine balance of nerve signals, it can be disrupted after excessive consumption of alcohol. This means that nerve impulses are unable to direct more blood to the penis, ensuring that it is unable to expand and harden. Therefore, your erection won't be strong enough for sexual intercourse.

The new 2016 alcohol guidelines for men (shown below) clearly indicate the appropriate amount of alcohol that you can consume to avoid erectile dysfunction.

Coffee May Help

Another erectile dysfunction study, this time from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, found that drinking two cups of coffee a day could improve erectile dysfunction. They found that out of 4000 men those who drank two cups of coffee a day saw a 42% reduction in erectile dysfunction. The percentage drops to 39% with three cups of coffee. It's thought coffee relaxes blood vessels and muscles in the penis to allow free blood flow. Dr. David Samadi, chair of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City has supported these claims by stating that, "More research is needed, but what scientists think is happening here is that coffee and caffeine are causing cavernous smooth muscle tissue (found in the penis) to relax, allowing more blood flow to the area and leading to improved erectile function".

Stamp On It

If you are having erection problems you might want to try out the traditional test of placing a ring of postage stamps around your penis before bedtime. Most men have a few erections during their sleep, so if the stamps are broken in the morning the problem may not be physical. You still need to see your doctor though.


High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves in the penis, making it difficult to achieve an erection. To achieve and maintain an erection healthy blood vessels and nerves are essential. Men with Type 2 diabetes tend to experience erection problems 10 to 15 years earlier than other men. As men with diabetes get older, the likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction increases. Studies have found that approximately 50% to 60% of men with diabetes over the age of 50 will experience erection problems.

How Many!

It's thought that 1 in 5 men will experience erection difficulties at some point with men aged 40-70 at more risk. 40% of men in the 60 plus age bracket may suffer erectile dysfunction. In fact, it's understood that there is approximately a 95% chance that you will experience erectile dysfunction if you are over the age of 70. It's a common occurrence and certainly not something to be ashamed of.

Porn May Affect Erections

Some studies have shown high levels of porn use can affect a man's ability to achieve an erection with a partner. It's because the brain may re-wire itself. The more porn you watch the more you become used to it. This means you'll need more stimulation and 'harder' porn to achieve the same levels of sexual excitement. Ursula Ofman, a New York-based clinical psychologist and sex therapist, has supported this notion. She has stated that 'pornography is inspiring and sexually motivating'. Ursula Ofman has gone on to state that 'if you masturbate too frequently—especially in the hours before you attempt sex with a partner—your recent orgasms may make it more difficult for you to perform, or may lower your interest in sex'. This therefore strongly supports the claim that porn can have an influence on erectile dysfunction.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications can temporarily affect the ability to gain an erection. These include anti-depressants, antihistamines - used to treat hay fever and allergies, diuretics for high blood pressure and corticosteroids. If you think your medication is causing a problem ask your doctor if you can change to another brand, which may suit you better.

It's Not Just Viagra

Viagra is well-known as the little blue erection pill and although it's widely taken and well tolerated it isn't the only one available.

The company producing Viagra lost the patent for European distribution in 2012 so new brand names containing the same ingredients, or even newly discovered ingredients, are available. These include Sildenafil, Cialis, Levitra, and Spedra. They all work in the same way - by opening up the blood vessels, but they contain differing amounts of drug. One might not suit, but another may be a perfect fit.

If you have erection problems go and have a chat with your doctor, because there are numerous ways they can help including counselling or medication options. A check-up is important to rule out heart disease and diabetes first though. Don't be embarrassed, erectile dysfunction is a common problem - you are not alone.

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