At one time, many experts thought that most cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) were related to psychological factors. Now, researchers have discovered that ED can be a signal that you may have some serious physical issues. And, though ED isn’t always caused by psychological factors, it often has both a psychological and a physical impact.
Dr. Paul Chung is an expert on men’s health topics, including erectile dysfunction. He provides compassionate care and understands that ED can be a sensitive topic. Finding out the underlying cause of your ED can benefit your health in numerous ways, including helping Dr. Chung recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.
Erectile dysfunction, defined
You probably already know that ED has to do with not being able to get or maintain an erection. The Urology Care Foundation™ defines it as “trouble getting or keeping an erection that’s firm enough for sex.” About half of men over the age of 40 experience erectile dysfunction some of the time, and that number increases with age.
If you can’t keep an erection once, though, it doesn’t mean you have ED. However, if you struggle about half the time, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung. ED is a complex condition, and can be due to emotional reasons or physical issues.
What happens during an erection
When you’re aroused, more blood flows to your penis, specifically into two chambers of spongy tissue called corpora cavernosa. That tissue captures blood, making your penis firm. After an orgasm, the blood is released from the corpora cavernosa back into your circulatory system.
Based on the description of what happens during an erection, it’s easy to see why you should be concerned about ED. Your cardiovascular system is involved in getting and keeping an erection, and not being able to do so could indicate a potentially serious problem.
Particularly for younger patients, in their 30s or 40s, ED could be a sign of cardiovascular disease. It may even indicate a higher risk for stroke, heart attack, or other cardiovascular events.
Problems like hypertension, high cholesterol, or blocked arteries can prevent blood from flowing through the small blood vessels in your penis. In fact, ED could be one of the first signs of a problem.
Other conditions, such as diabetes, can also lead to ED. Diabetes often isn’t accompanied by symptoms, so ED could be an important warning.
Obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and lack of exercise are all lifestyle factors that may lead to ED.
Stress, depression, and low self-esteem can certainly cause erectile dysfunction—and ED can cause all of those things, too. Regardless of the cause of ED, it can bring about emotional and psychological distress and that is reason enough that you shouldn’t ignore it.
Dr. Chung can help you understand why you’re struggling to get or keep an erection. If you learn that you do have ED, there are several effective therapies to help you address the problem. For compassionate and comprehensive care, schedule your appointment with Dr. Chung today.