Understanding Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be equally devastating for a man and his partner. There is hope for every man with erectile dysfunction to regain the confidence, control and wholeness to enjoy an active, satisfying sex life.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
A MEN’S HEALTH ISSUE
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that affects many men as well as their partners. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough to have sexual intercourse2. In other words, the penis doesn’t get hard enough to allow you to have sex. It may begin in the bedroom, but it can have a profound effect on a man, his self-esteem and his relationships3.
ONE CONDITION, MANY CAUSES
Erectile Dysfunction happens when blood flow to the penis is limited or nerves are damaged. The causes of ED include but are not limited to diabetes, heart disease, prostate cancer treatment, depression, anxiety, and the side effects of some medications1, 5. Stress, lack of sleep, smoking and excess drinking can also affect your performance. In other words, ED affects men of every ethnicity, age and lifestyle.1, 5
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
You may be surprised when you experience erectile dysfunction for the first time. In fact, more than half of men over 40 suffer from some degree of ED1. If you can’t get an erection more than 50% of the time, you should see a doctor. To better understand the link between your symptoms and ED, take the Sexual Health Inventory Management (SHIM) Survey5. The results should be shared with your doctor to help initiate a conversation about treatment options.
Get Your ED Score
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Erectile Dysfunction is treatable at any age. Treating the underlying cause of ED with the support of your doctor, is a good place to start, such as adjusting your lifestyle, quitting smoking and reducing your stress. Medications (Viagra™, Cialis™, Levitra™ and Stendra™) are typically the first line of therapy, but many men need more. Medications are typically followed by one or more of these treatments: topical cream, vacuum devices, surgically implanted devices or penile injections. These other options are usually discussed with your physician.
Ways to help your partner
Erectile Dysfunction is a difficult topic for couples to discuss. Talking openly can help reduce stress and improve your relationship. Acknowledge your feelings, reassure each other and resolve to work through the problem, together.
HELPING YOUR PARTNER WHO HAS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Erectile Dysfunction is a common medical problem. It is both physical and emotional, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Most importantly, ED is treatable. The more you know about ED, the more helpful and positive you can be. Go to your doctor and ask questions. You can help him seek treatment, something many men are hesitant to do.
BE SENSITIVE AND HONEST
A man with ED may withdraw from sex and his partner. Be patient. You may blame yourself, thinking you are no longer desirable. You may blame him and suspect infidelity. Be honest. Talk about what you each expect. If you noticed changes during sex, bring it up to him. While difficult, talking about ED may bring you closer and strengthen your relationship.
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CHOOSE THE MOMENT
Try to find a non-sexual place to talk at a time when both of you are relaxed. Communication is key. Turn off the TV and cell phones. Take a deep breath and don't be afraid to have this discussion. Focus on ways to solve ED, rather than on how it affects your relationship. If he isn’t ready to talk about it, see if he will talk to a doctor.
COME BACK STRONGER
The fact that your partner is open to talking about ED is overcoming the biggest battle. But, it may not be as easy as simply taking a pill. Find solutions acceptable to both of you. Don’t be afraid to experiment and talk openly with each other. Many couples report an increase in desire after focusing on intimacy – kissing, hugging, stroking, etc. Talking about ED solutions may lead you both to healthier lifestyle choices.
- Gandaglia G, Briganti A, Jackson G, et al. A systematic review of the association between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Eur Urol. 2014 May;65(5):968-78.
- Bohm M, Baumhäkel M, Teo K, et al. Erectile dysfunction predicts cardiovascular events in high-risk patients receiving Telmisartan, Ramipril, or both: The ongoing Telmisartan alone and in combination with Ramipril global endpoint trial/Telmisartan randomized assessment study in ACE intolerant subjects with cardiovascular disease (ONTARGET/TRANSCEND) trials. Circulation. 2010 Mar 30;121(12):1439-46.
- Jackson G, Rosen RC, et al. The second Princeton consensus on sexual dysfunction and cardiac risk: new guidelines for sexual medicine. J Sex Med. 2006 Jan;3(1):28–36.
- Montorsi R, Rigatti P, Carmingnani G, et al. AMS three-piece inflatable implants for erectile dysfunction: a long-term multi-institution study in 200 consecutive patients. Eur Urol. 2000;37:50-55.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED). www.auanet.org/content/education-and-meetings/med-stu-curriculum/ed.pdf. American Urological Association Website. Downloaded January 21, 2013.Erectile dysfunction (ED). www.auanet.org/content/education-and-meetings/med-stu-curriculum/ed.pdf. American Urological Association Website. Downloaded January 21, 2013.
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