The best way for men to begin solving erectile problems is by reading about men's sexual system - anatomy, physiology, diseases, drugs, diagnosis and treatments. Some problems may be solved simply and others may require a visit to your family doctor or a urologist. In either case, we encourage you to become an educated health care consumer, which should help you regardless of the cause or cure for your problem.
Because erections are caused by the buildup of blood in the shaft of the penis, poor blood flow in the penis can result in problems with erections. Damage to blood vessels can be caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or from trauma. Vascular disease is believed to be the most common medical cause of erectile dysfunction.
Many medications cause problems with sexual function, including drugs for high blood pressure, depression, heart disease and prostate cancer.
Erectile dysfunction can occur suddenly or gradually. Some men slowly lose the firmness of their erections or how long the erections last. In other men, especially those whose impotence is largely caused by psychological factors, the problem may occur unpredictably and can improve at any time. Despite their difficulties with erections, men with impotence often continue to have normal orgasm and ejaculation.
Little is known about how to prevent erectile dysfunction. However, avoiding cigarette smoking and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels can help because smoking and high cholesterol can affect blood vessels. Men with diabetes should strive to keep blood sugar levels under control. Because certain medications have been associated with erectile dysfunction, ask your doctor about possible side effects before you start using any new prescription.
There are many effective treatments for erectile dysfunction. The most popular option is a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, which includes sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis). These drugs, taken in pill form from zero to 60 minutes before sexual activity, work in approximately 70 percent of men, though they are less effective in men with neurological causes of erectile dysfunction such as nerve damage from prostate surgery, diabetes or spinal cord injury.