Erectile Dysfunction Causes, Symptoms and Available Treatment Options

Erectile dysfunction is a sexual condition in male, in which a man is not able to get an erection or maintain an erection upon sexual arousal, which is required for a satisfactory sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is also popularly know as male impotence and ED.

We can categorized erectile dysfunction (ED) into three types (depending on how hard it is to obtain or sustain an erection): Mild, Moderate, and Severe.

Sexual arousal involves a complex system in which hormones, the brain, and emotions connect to bring about an erection. A little disruption in the processes involved in erection can cause erectile dysfunction. A range of physiological and psychological factors are responsible for this sexual dysfunction in young men.

According to a research-based estimate, about 80% of erectile dysfunction cases are due to physiological factors. An interruption in the free flow of blood to the penis can be one of the common reasons of impotence in both young and old men. Also, certain unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug abuse put men at high risk of developing erectile problems. In fact, it has been found that smokers are at 1.5 times more risk to have erectile dysfunction as compared to non-smokers.

Erectile dysfunction symptoms

Symptoms associated with erectile dysfunction may include:

  • Total inability to get an erection or occasionally achieving an erection.
  • Ability to get an erection, but losing it in the middle of sex
  • Trouble maintaining an erection throughout sexual intercourse
  • Reduced sexual desire due to inability to achieve an erection

Apart from these symptoms, other common erectile dysfunction symptoms include an erection that is neither full nor firm, loss of erection before or during intercourse, partial or no erection. The penis is not able to stop the draining out of blood from the cavernosa chambers, therefore erection is not maintained throughout sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can be a precursor to heart disease and diabetes.

Causes of erectile dysfunction

Cause of erectile dysfunction can generally be divided into two types:

  • Psychological cause of erectile dysfunction and,
  • Physiological cause of erectile dysfunction

Psychological causes

Anxiety, stress and depression are all psychological causes of erectile dysfunction. And when erection problems occur, this in itself produces a significant emotional reaction, known as “performance anxiety”, which can further interfere with normal sexual function. Other psychological causes include feeling nervous about sex, work or financial stress, and problems in your relationship.

It should be noted that the issue of psychological causes is quite complex. Some men may lose interest in sex because of stress, or relationship issues, or any other reason, and simply may not be aroused enough to get an erection, or to keep the erection until ejaculation. This in itself does not mean that your sexual function is impaired, or that you have erectile dysfunction. However one episode of failure, regardless of cause, may result in further stress that results in further erectile failure.

Physiological causes

There are certain conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and low hormone levels, which are all associated with erectile dysfunction. Tests by your doctor can determine whether any of these conditions are present. Often, the effects of these conditions on erectile function can be reversed, through diet and exercise. Other diseases known to cause erectile dysfunction include kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver (usually the result of too much alcohol), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Nerve damage as the result of certain types of surgery can cause erectile dysfunction. Specifically, surgery in the pelvic area, such as abdominal or prostate surgery, may affect the nerves and arteries near the penis, resulting in erectile dysfunction.

Certain medications used for treating other conditions are known to cause erectile dysfunction. These include antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), antiulcer drugs, medications used for prostate cancer, and drugs for lowering cholesterol. If you are using any of these drugs, do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor. If you think they may be causing erectile dysfunction, you should talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

How effective is Cialis (tadalafil) in treating erectile dysfunction?

With the help of 22 clinical trials which involved more than 4,000 men the effectiveness and safety of tadalafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction was evaluated. Out of these 22 trails 7 were prospective, random, placebo-controlled studies carried out for a duration of 12 weeks. Two of the trails from these which involved 402 men were conducted in United States where as the remaining 5 studies were done outside US which involved 1112 men.

Efficacy and effectiveness of tadalafil in these trails was assessed with the help of a sexual function questionnaire. The results of all the trails showed that Cialis (tadalafil) was better than the placebo in improving the ability of men to achieve and maintain erections. The improvement in ED was seen to last as long as up to 36 hrs.’ after Cialis was taken as compared to placebo and in some patients the improvement was seen as early as in 30 minutes of taking a dose.