Erectile Dysfunction (ED); Top 10 causes and 6 ways to avoid it

A banana image that depicts the shape of a penis to explain erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain a penile erection that is enough for sexual satisfaction. Though it is not life-threatening, it can affect the quality of life of the individual and relationship with their sexual partner and even lower one’s self-esteem

How common is Erectile dysfunction?

Do you know that six out of every ten adult males in Nigeria experience some form of erectile dysfunction at a point in their life? Erectile dysfunction is a common medical and social condition and most of its risk factors can be worked on. It is usually underreported due to stigma and the culture of silence in males

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions worldwide. It can happen at any age but becomes more common as one gets older. About half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 have ED and 7 in 10 men aged 70 and above have ED. 

What can increase your risk of having Erectile dysfunction?

Erection occurs in response to sight, smell or touch sensation. The ability to get and sustain an erection not only depends on the penile aspect but also on the status of the nerves and blood supply.

Some of the risk factors that reduce nerve and endothelium function and alter the balance between the contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscles located in the penis are;

  1. Lack of exercise
  2. Obesity
  3. Smoking
  4. High cholesterol level
  5. High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  6. Diabetes mellitus
  7. Cycling- Sitting on the saddle for a long period may cause pressure on the nerves going to the penis.

What causes Erectile dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by a lot of conditions such as;

  1. Vascular causes– This is when there is reduced blood flow to the penis. It can occur in atherosclerosis; a condition where there is narrowing and thickening of the artery wall due to fat deposits, peripheral vascular disease, etc
  2. Psychological causes- Performance anxiety can cause erectile dysfunction especially in the young. This can also be due to factors like stress or relationship difficulties. 
  3. Systemic diseases like Hypertension, high levels of cholesterol etc
  4. Neurologic causes- Stroke, epilepsy
  5. Respiratory disease– Sleep apnea, etc
  6. Hormonal conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, low testosterone
  7. Penis associated conditions like Peyronie disease- which is the curvature of the penile shaft, micropenis
  8. Psychiatric conditions- Post traumatic stress disorder, depression etc 
  9. Drugs- recreational drugs, certain anticonvulsants drugs, anti-ulcer drugs
  10. Injury to nerve or vessel during surgery or trauma

How do you manage Erectile dysfunction?

This usually involves treating the underlying cause. It is important to speak to a doctor to have a full evaluation done. Specialist consultation with a urologist may be indicated. Treatment options include;

  • If caused by drugs- Stop medication or switch to another alternative
  • Sexual counselling- especially if there are no known medical conditions
  • Oral or topically applied medications
  • Injections or drug pellets inserted at the tip of the penis
  • If caused by hormonal factors- hormone replacement drugs for the deficient hormone
  • Surgical repair of damaged vessels if caused by injury during surgery or trauma
  • External devices like a penile tourniquet, a vacuum device
  • Penile prosthesis; surgical insertion of devices to the penis to achieve erection
  • Shock wave therapy has also shown promising results

Six ways to avoid Erectile Dysfunction

  1. Maintain a healthy weight- Weight loss help to increase testosterone and ultimately may improve erection
  2. Stop smoking – The risk of developing Erectile Dysfunction increases 1.5 times when you smoke
  3. Reduce alcohol intake and stay away from recreational drugs
  4. Maintain good sugar and blood pressure control- If you have diabetes or hypertension, take your medications regularly as prescribed. 
  5. Rest and reduce stress
  6. Regular general health checkup- Most people find out they have hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol when they come to complain about erectile dysfunction, you do not want to be one of these people. So, go for a wellness check that covers your kidney function, cholesterol level, blood sugar, blood pressure check, checks the thickness of your artery walls, and much more.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, book a session with a doctor online via Doktorconnect. Your doctor will advise you on the best step to take.

    • Dear Atugwu, thank you for your question. Treatment of Erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. You can book an appointmnent on the doktorconnect app to speak to a doctor now. Looking forward to hearing from you

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