Learn more from Matthew Ziegelmann, M.D.
I'm Dr. Matthew Ziegelmann, a urologist at Mayo Clinic. In this video, we'll cover the basics of erectile dysfunction. What is it? Who gets it? The symptoms, diagnosis, and the treatments. Whether you're looking for answers for yourself or for someone you love, we're here to give you the best information available. Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is defined by difficulty getting and keeping an erection. It can be an embarrassing thing to talk about. It's been reported that more than half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 experience some form of ED. So take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Experiencing difficulty with erections from time to time is usually no cause for concern. But ongoing issues can cause stress, it can affect self-confidence, and it can contribute to relationship problems. Sometimes it may indicate an underlying condition. The bottom line is that if you experience ED, you should talk about it with your doctor, even if you're embarrassed, because we have a number of ways that we can effectively treat erectile dysfunction. ED can be caused by physical or psychological issues. Sexual arousal is a complicated process. It involves your brain, your hormones, your nerves, your muscles, and your blood vessels. A hiccup in any of these can cause a problem.
The fact is that erectile dysfunction affects men of all ages. However, as you get older, your risk can increase. This is not only because erections take longer to develop, but also that other contributing factors may come into play. Physical issues like heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking can all cause erectile dysfunction. On the other hand, depression, anxieties, stress, relationship problems, and other mental health concerns can also interfere with sexual feelings. And this can cause or worsen your erectile problems. Often, it's a bit of both. So it's important to understand one's physical and psychological state to know the underlying cause of one's erectile dysfunction.
Unlike a lot of medical conditions, the symptoms of erectile dysfunction are rather straightforward. If you have persistent trouble getting or keeping an erection, you might have erectile dysfunction. If you're dealing with any of these symptoms, a family doctor or an internist is usually a good place to start.
Usually, the hardest part of diagnosing erectile dysfunction is overcoming that embarrassment that comes with talking about your ED. But once you talk to your doctor, you'll find that it's common, and a diagnosis can happen quickly. For many people, a physical exam and answering some basic questions about your medical history is all that is needed. If you have chronic health conditions or your doctor suspects an underlying condition might be involved, you could need further tests or a consultation with a specialist such as me.
Millions of men are able to successfully treat their erectile dysfunction. Oral prescription medications are one popular route. Taking medications does not automatically produce an erection. These tablets amplify the effects of nitric oxide. This is a chemical that your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis. Sexual stimulation releases this chemical and these medications enhance its effect, allowing for an erection. Other less common, but effective, medications for ED include self-injections or urethral suppositories. If medications aren't effective, your doctor may recommend a vacuum penis pump. This device uses a hollow tube to create a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis. Penile implants are another option and involve surgically placing a device that allows the penis to achieve an erection. If your ED is impacting your mental health or your relationship, your doctor may also recommend that you and your partner visit a psychologist or a sexual therapist. What your treatment ultimately looks like depends on the cause and severity of your erectile dysfunction, as well as any underlying health condition that may be present. Your doctor will be able to work with you to find the right solution.
Erectile dysfunction can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with your doctor, with your partner and with your friends. But don't assume that you're alone. Involve your partner, and communicate openly and honestly about your condition. Try to remember that it's very common. And more importantly, it's very treatable. If you'd like to learn more about erectile dysfunction, here are some other related videos. Or you can visit mayoclinic.org. We wish you well.