Erectile dysfunction is not just an embarrassing disorder; it can also cause infertility in men. Yet medication is not the only cure to this problem; a recent study shows that erectile dysfunction can be treated by lifestyle modification.
Facts about Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is a common problem affecting males. It is the inability to achieve or maintain erection of the penis which is necessary for a successful sexual performance. This problem may be due to abnormalities in the physiology responsible for filling the penis with blood to make it become firm and erect and for making it flaccid after ejaculation or when sexual stimulation is stopped.
The problem with erectile dysfunction is that it can cause stress and relationship issues among couples. This is why a man with erectile dysfunction should have a dialogue with his doctor to take some necessary steps of treating or preventing this disorder. The prerequisites for a normal erection are adequate delivery of blood to the penis through the arteries, optimal hormone levels and an appropriate psychological state. Failure in any of these processes or factors may cause failure of erection.
For us to understand the normal functioning of the penis, let us recall that there are two spongy areas of the penis called the corpus cavernosum. These two structures are engorged in blood; when there is proper sexual stimulation, the body secretes hormones that stimulate the release of nitrous oxide to nerve endings in the body so that blood vessels will be dilated and arterial blood is pumped into spongy tissues to make the penis stand erect. During continuous sexual stimulation, there is contraction of the muscles at the base of the penis further preventing blood from entering or escaping the penis to increase its firmness. After ejaculation, there is relaxation of the muscles and blood leaves the penis.
Erectile dysfunction is caused by the dysfunction in the organs that are involved with starting or maintaining an erection. These organs include the brain, the male reproductive system, hormones, muscles, nerves, arteries, veins and emotional response. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are involved in making the testes produce the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for libido or sexual desire. Brain function can be affected by injury, tumor, stroke, trauma, surgery or hypogonadism and can result in the failure of the testes to produce testosterone.
The nerves supplying the penis should also function very well because nerve damage due to trauma or surgery (of the prostate) can result to failure of erection. Diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy and failure of the nerves can lead to failure of erection. A disease affecting the nerves known as multiple sclerosis can also cause erectile dysfunction.
Blood supply to the penis should be adequate. Blood supply to the penis may be affected by trauma or surgery. Peripheral vascular disease or hardening of the arteries can also cause restriction of blood supply, the mechanism of which is the same in heart attack and stroke. Erectile dysfunction can also predispose one to have coronary artery disease and stroke as these illnesses have one common pathogenesis. People who are at high risk for erectile dysfunction are those who have peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and poorly controlled diabetes. Smokers are also at risk for this condition, as well as repeated local trauma such as bicycling. Drug and alcohol abusers are also known to be predisposed to this condition.
Erectile Dysfunction and Lifestyle
A recent study has found out that erectile dysfunction can be treated by focusing on lifestyle factors and not just by medications. The results of this study done by researchers from University of Adelaide were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The researchers highlighted the incidence of erectile dysfunction and the lack of sexual desire among Australian men aged 35-80 years. Among 810 men, 31% developed erectile dysfunction in five years. The study also found out that majority of these men has overcome erectile dysfunction using natural methods.
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