No one expects they will develop erectile dysfunction, so most men are surprised when they have this problem. Dr. Paul Chung and the entire staff in our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are here to help! Many of our patients have misconceptions regarding this condition. In this post we discuss nine facts about erectile dysfunction that you may find surprising.
1. You’re not alone, affects 52% of men
One thing that most people don’t realize is just how many men are affected at some point or other with erectile dysfunction. Slightly more than half of men struggle to get or keep an erection. There are many reasons and we can help you diagnose the cause.
2. Not necessarily age-related
You may imagine that age is the reason most men experience erectile dysfunction, but age isn’t always the cause. In fact, men of any age can have erectile dysfunction, though it does tend to be more common in older men, factors unrelated to age can be at play.
For example, heavy alcohol use can cause erectile dysfunction regardless of age. Obesity, too, can be an underlying cause that is unrelated to age.
3. May be a vascular problem
Getting and maintaining an erection depends in large part on blood flow. The spongy tissue along the length of your penis fills with blood when you have an erection. If there’s some reason the blood can't flow to the tissue, you may not be able to achieve an erection firm enough for intercourse.
In some cases, the same kinds of problems that cause cardiovascular disease can also cause erectile dysfunction. If your blood vessels are inflexible or blocked by plaque so that the blood doesn’t flow properly, you may not be able to get or keep an erection.
4. Could signal a serious health condition
Erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of other serious health issues in addition to cardiovascular disease. In fact, in nearly 70% of cases, erectile dysfunction is an early sign of atherosclerosis. Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease may both cause erectile dysfunction because they affect your nervous system.
A strong link exists between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. One study found that about 15% of men with new ED would experience a cardiovascular event within the next seven years!
Before the blood can fill the spongy tissue in your penis, your brain signals the nerves in your penis to relax, which allows the blood flow. Diabetes can damage your nerves and Parkinson’s affects your nerves as well.
5. Broken blood vessel
Your erection depends on blood flow, and problems with blood flow cause problems with getting or keeping an erection. Another type of blood flow problem is called “venous leak”.
Once the blood has filled the tissue in your penis to produce an erection, your blood vessels continue to expand and create a sort of seal. When you have venous leak, that seal doesn't work properly, the blood leaks back out of the tissue, and you lose your erection.
6. Lifestyle habits play a role
Numerous lifestyle factors can cause erectile dysfunction. For example, smoking can restrict blood flow, and overuse of alcohol can inhibit erections.
Chronically high stress may cause erectile dysfunction, and being physically inactive may be a problem. High cholesterol can contribute to clogged arteries, so eating a healthy, nutritious diet low in fat may help you avoid erectile problems.
In general, living an active lifestyle, consuming a nutritious diet, and aiming for as healthy a lifestyle as possible, are all ways to lower your risk of erectile dysfunction.
7. Hormones play a role
Hormones are involved in virtually every biological process in your body, including getting and maintaining an erection. Issues with your pituitary gland or your thyroid can lead to erectile dysfunction. In some rare cases, lack of testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction.
8. Mental health may play a role
Both the psychological state of depression and some of the medications used to treat it can cause problems with getting or keeping an erection.
There’s also a relationship between depression, cardiovascular disease, and erectile dysfunction. If you have any one of these issues, you should be evaluated for the other two.
In some men who have had a negative sexual experience, the problem could be psychogenic ED, rather than a physiological issue. This causes stress and anxiety and may bring on subsequent erectile issues. In such cases, meeting with a therapist may be the best solution.
9. Viagra isn’t the only solution
Most people immediately think of drugs such as Viagra when they think about getting treated for erectile dysfunction. However, there are numerous other treatments available. The one that’s most likely to work well for you depends on the underlying cause of your erectile dysfunction, your medical history, and many other factors.
An experienced men’s health specialist like Dr. Chung can perform ultrasound studies of the penis, which provides information about why you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction. He also collects detailed health information and performs diagnostic tests in order to make the most accurate diagnosis. With that information, he customizes a treatment plan for you.
If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, make an appointment with Dr. Chung. We have three locations for your convenience, and it’s better to understand why you’re having a problem than to worry about what’s wrong.