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Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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Updated on March 17, 2020

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Perhaps you have heard about erectile dysfunction or experienced it.

Erectile dysfunction is simply the inability to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction is also referred to as sterility or importance. However, these terms are used less often.

ED does not occur frequently; however, a man can sometimes experience ED when under stress, anxiety, or depression.

Occasional ED is not a sign of unhealthiness; however, frequent ED is a health alarm that requires a prompt response.

What causes an erection?

So, what causes Ed? ED is a condition then only arises during the process of copulation.

You don't realize ED moments when you are not involved in sexual intercourse.

For sex to occur, the penis has to be erect when a man should be ready for sex. The erection of the penis is sustained by blood flow.

Blood flows from the base of the penis towards the tip of the penis. This blood flow, an erection, is a result of sexual thoughts or contact with the opposite sex. Failure to have an erection is what is referred to as erectile dysfunction.

During sexual intercourse of anticipation for sex, the chambers in the penis are filled with the flowing blood making the penis erect, stiff, or rigid.

The erection will only end when the penis muscles relax as a result of no or decreased blood flow.

These are some of the major causes of erectile dysfunction

  • Peyronie's disease which leads to the formation of scars around the penis

  • Stress

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Relationship problems

  • Sleep disorder

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Obesity

  • Age

  • Hormonal imbalance, i.e., testosterone hormone

  • Kidney disease

  • Medicinal drugs, i.e., high blood pressure drugs

  • Sleep disorders

  • Use of too many drugs such as alcohol, tobacco

  • Health conditions such as multiple sclerosis

  • Injuries are the pelvic area.

One or multiple causes among the listed can result in ED. It's not advisable to think of one of these causes and make a conclusion.

It's prudent, and you consult a urologist or a doctor when faced with erectile dysfunction. Through this, random tests will be conducted to have a real cause of the dysfunction.

Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

Many people have given up in despair when they first experience ED.

ED is a condition that can be treated and correctly reversed by a medical doctor. The treatment of ED usually varies based on the causes and the affected individual.

The treatment of ED can be done through the use of modern medicine or the use of other means like natural herbs and even homemade concoctions like erection tea.


Your doctor will offer a perfect medication procedure once an appropriate cause of ED has been established.

Several remedies are available for the treatment of ED; however, it's advisable to take the medication based on the prescription by doctors.

Some of the available ED medication include:

  • Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)

  • Sildenafil commonly referred to as Viagra

  • Alprostadil (Caverject, Edex, MUSE)

  • Tadalafil (Cialis)

  • Avanafil (Stendra)

These medications can sometimes have side effects, and it's advisable in cases of such effects you consult the doctor in charge.

Trusting your doctors with such information will lead to appropriate measures being taken as a change of drugs or the introduction of a new treatment method.

Doctors may recommend testosterone therapy as one of the ways of treating ED. This is usually preferred for individuals with low testosterone levels.

In case you still remember, as previously listed, some of the medication used in the treatment of certain diseases like hypertension can also result in ED; hence, it's ordinarily advisable you involve your doctor about the treatment process.

Another means of treatment applicable is Testosterone therapy; however, this therapy is only applied on occasions when a patient has low levels of testosterone.

Talk therapy

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to sexually perform during sexual intercourse (the penis inability to remain firm during sexual intercourse).

It is caused by ageing and psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, to mention but a few.

The symptoms are, namely, trouble in getting and difficulty maintaining an erection during intercourse. Another one is reduced interest in sex.

There are sexual disorders related to erectile dysfunction. Premature or delayed ejaculation and inability to achieve orgasm after stimulation is examples of the disorders.

An individual facing this challenge should visit a doctor for examination and monitoring consequently get treated for dysfunction?

Talk therapy can be best applied to erectile dysfunctions caused by unstable thinking, among other mental related challenges and consumption of hard drugs like tobacco and alcohol.

It's not much applicable in healing EDC as a result of other causes like injuries and surgeries.

This type of therapy helps focus patient's rational thinking and ensuring they are calm and in control during sexual intercourse.


The doctor is to perform tests after questioning the patient's history, analyzing the symptoms, and physically examining the patient.

Asking about the patient's heritage, health, and sexual history is essential. It helps the doctor to establish the cause and establish the severity of the situation.

Physical examination is performed by using the necessary equipment to determine the patient's heartbeat rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

The doctor will further examine the testicles and penis, the main areas of interest. He/she may recommend a prostate examination where they check the rectal area.

The questions a doctor may ask a patient are related to the period of erectile dysfunction, frequency of sexual acts, state of the current relationship with their partner, ongoing use of any medications, use of drugs.

The questions are: Did the dysfunction occur suddenly or gradually? Are you experiencing problems related to fulfilling your sexual desires, ejaculation, or reaching orgasm?

How often do you have sex, and what are the changes in frequency?

Is the firmness of the erection affected by particular situations or types of stimulation?

At what times do you experience erection(in the morning or the night)? Have you recently been under a lot of stress?

What types of medications are you currently taking?

How regularly do you ingest alcohol, tobacco, bhang, and to what amounts?

Do you have underlying medical conditions?

Have you had surgery or injury on your pelvic or prostrate areas?

Above are examples of questions a doctor asks a patient.

Additionally, a doctor can perform other tests to determine the diagnosis.

The tests can include:

  • ultrasound in the genitalia to examine the blood flow in the blood vessels of the penis

  • nocturnal penis tumescence device worn on the thigh to determine the quality of nocturnal erections

  • injection tests where medicine is injected to the penis to stimulate an erection and determine the erection period and firmness of the erection

  • urine and blood test used to check for underlying diseases such as diabetes, thyroid issues, heart disease

  • low testosterone levels which consequently affect and cause erectile dysfunction.

The doctor needs to analyze risk factors that could lead to erectile dysfunction to come up with a diagnosis that is completely inclusive of everything.

Risk factors increase the chances of a patient developing erectile dysfunction and are often related to blood flow and circulation.

Increasing age is the first factor. The older a man gets, the more difficult it is to get and maintain an erection; hence most require direct stimulation.

It is estimated that mild or moderate erectile dysfunction affects ten percent more men each decade of life, i.e., sixty percent of men at the age of sixty.

However, younger men are most likely to be dysfunctional due to the use of drugs. Although it increases with age, men must maintain their health for better sexual functionality.

Obesity is another risk factor. It affects blood flow and psychologically affects the patient as they feel unattractive due to their weight making it difficult to gain an erection.

Moreover, medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, injury, or wound caused by surgery on pelvic or prostrate area increase the risks of being dysfunctional.

Undergoing medical treatment such as radiation therapy or taking of medicine like antidepressants or blood pressure medication increases the chances of being dysfunctional.

After a complete diagnosis of the situation, the doctor recommends different treatments and medication.

Treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of erectile dysfunction and whether a specific health condition causes it.

The doctor should explain the benefits and risks associated with each treatment.

There are varieties of treatment, namely: natural remedy, dysfunctional erectile exercises, surgery, use of vacuum pumps, and talk therapy.

Sex is psychological, and any type of stress, anxiety, or depression could hinder one's ability to enjoy the act by being dysfunctional.

Talk therapy is a session where the patient discusses their sexual feelings with a therapist or relationship counsellor.

It helps in realizing any subconscious fear, stress, or anxiety.

It is also an avenue where the patient can reconnect with their partner are reignite their impaired sexual life.

Natural treatment

ED can be treated; hence one should never panic when faced with ED. The first step of the treatment involves consulting a doctor who will guide you through the treatment process.

Numerous procedures are available for the treatment of ED. Each patient can only use a treatment method at a time.

The methods vary from patient to patient.

Numerous herbs have been tested and scientifically proven to treat ED.

Among the Japanese culture where modern medicine does not rely on much, herbs are used to treat such conditions as ED.

They are quite effective as other medicine provided at the hospital; however, and caution should be taken to consume such herbs when only instructed by a doctor.

Natural treatment involves taking natural herbs and supplements, acupuncture, and massage. Certain natural herbs and supplements have been successful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

They are horny goat weed and zinc, L-arginine, L-carnitine, Yohimbe, asparagus racemosus, and Korean red ginseng.

These herbs and supplements help boost one's sexual life.

Acupuncture is a treatment where needles are inserted into the skin at specific locations in the body, stimulating the nerves releasing neurotransmitters.

It specifically helps in the treatment of psychological erectile dysfunction.

When choosing an acupuncturist, an individual should look for a certified practitioner who uses disposable needles and follows Food and Drug Administration guidelines for needle disposal and sterilization.

It's vital that the doctor personalizes the needles for each patient for their general health welfare and avoid the spread of diseases.

Prostatic massage

A prostatic massage is a form of therapy used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

It complements other medical procedures. A massage practitioner massages the groin tissues of the patient to increase blood flow to the penis.

The length of the massage periods depends on the severity of the problem.

One may undergo several times a week. An individual should choose one of the natural remedies.

However, for positive results, one treatment should be complemented with another or paired with Viagra and other traditional medications.

Erectile dysfunctional exercises help in strengthening the muscles and improving blood flow, consequently improving sexual performance.

Examples of the exercises are kegel exercises, aerobic exercises, and yoga. Kegel exercises are used explicitly in enhancing the strength of pelvic muscles.

It's whereby one stops peeing midstream to identify the pelvic floor muscles.

After identifying them, contract the muscles for three seconds then release them. The exercise should be repeated ten to twenty times in a row, three times a day.

A study was done in the year 2005, where two groups with men who ailed from erectile dysfunction were involved.

One group did kegel exercises and advised on lifestyle changes. The second group was only informed on lifestyle changes—each for three months.

After six months, forty per cent of the men in group one had regained normal erectile function.

A 2019 review suggested that Kegel exercises are instrumental in treating erectile dysfunctionality and premature ejaculation.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is a moderate to vigorous exercise done to keep fit and increase blood flow helping erectile dysfunction.

Examples are swimming and running. A study was done to determine the effect of aerobic on erectile dysfunction.

The review given concluded one hundred and sixty minutes of weekly exercise for six months leads to the healing of the disorder.

Another study concluded that aerobic exercises reduced body fat, increasing testosterone levels, which are directly related to sexual performance.

However, individuals with underlying conditions such as heart diseases or blood pressure should consult with their doctor before enrolling for aerobic exercises as it may aggravate the health conditions of the patient, making it worse.

Yoga is an exercise used for mind and body relaxation, thus a strategic way of treating psychological erectile dysfunction.

It helps reduce stress and anxiety, which are causes of the dysfunction.

A study done in the year 2010, with a group of sixty-five men between the ages of twenty-four and sixty-five, had their sexual functionality increase after a twelve-week yoga session, thus a successful way for treatment.

A vacuum pump is another treatment strategy, which increases blood flow to the penis by using a vacuum to initiate an erection.

A vacuum pump has various components, i.e., a plastic tube used to cover the penis, a pump used to create a vacuum by drawing air out of the plastic container, and an elastic ring used while removing the plastic tube and is placed at the base of the penis.

Its function is to increase and maintain blood circulation in the penis area. Men with erectile dysfunction could find it instrumental before and during sexual intercourse to keep the penis firmness.

Dysfunctional erectile surgery

Dysfunctional erectile surgery is the last resort where other medications and treatments aren't effective.

It involves two procedures: vascular surgery and implants. Prosthesis or penile implant is placed inside the penis.

Penile implants allow one to get an erection but don't increase sexual desire or sensation.

There are two types inflatable and malleable. An inflatable implant is a pump that, when pressed, causes the penis to enlarge while plastic implant allows manual adjusting of the penis.

Vascular surgery repairs blocked arteries increasing blood flow to the penis, facilitating erection.

Veins causing blood to leave the penis are blocked to help in erection maintenance.

Young men are better candidates for this procedure because they would heal faster than older men.

A point to note is that the patient should research the processes, have knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Afterwards, make an informed decision in the best interest of their health.

Men should adjust their lifestyle to reduce the risks of developing erectile dysfunction.

They should focus on eating wholegrain, vegetables, and fruits. Furthermore, they should limit their consumption of red meat, full-fat dairy, and processed sugars.

These foods clog the arteries and are linked to health problems such as heart diseases, which consequently cause dysfunction.

Avoiding them ensures their general health welfare additionally provides that their body weight is intact, keeping their testosterone levels at the expected standards.

Eating specific foods that are used to improve their sexual drive is critical.

They should eat foods like cocoa, beans, shellfish, spinach, kale, cabbage watermelon, to mention a few which boost their testosterone due to buildup of minerals like magnesium in the bloodstream.

Drinking alcohol with moderation should be a resolution if they want to maintain their standard sex drive.

Drinking excess alcohol causes dehydration as it decreases blood volume.

Furthermore, excessive drinking negatively affects the nervous system, which the main trigger for erection during sex.

Prevention of ED

Prevention is better than cure.

Men who have a regular sex life should take the necessary precautions to ensure that they do not become erectile dysfunctional

Keeping medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes under control is essential.

They should take the required medicine to the treatment of these underlying conditions.

Regular exercise to keep fit is necessary. Exercises ensure that they aren't fat. Excess body weight reduces the testosterone levels, ultimately leading to low sex drive.

Eating healthy is crucial in ensuring that the body gets the necessary vitamins and minerals required for energy and hormonal production boosting libido.

Additionally, they should take care of their mental health by avoiding stress and anxiety.

If suffering from depression, seek the necessary help from a psychologist and take medications.

Poor mental health affects the functionality of the brain hence reduce blood flow and cause hormonal imbalances leading to erectile dysfunction.

To reduce stress and anxiety, they should engage in activities and hobbies that could help them unwind, i.e., swimming, painting, dancing, singing or listening to music, etc.

Individuals should drink responsibly and avoid smoking as it's linked to heart and blood vessel diseases.

They should avoid using drugs that haven't been recommended by the doctor that could lead to other medical conditions or prevent one from feeling aroused or having sexual sensations.

A culture of regular checkups should be established to monitor sexual health.

It is essential to control sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

It helps in early detection of the problem and treatment of conditions that could lead to Erectile dysfunction.

Complications of erectile dysfunction

Some complications result from erectile dysfunction.

An unsatisfactory sex life, stress or anxiety, embarrassment or low self-esteem, relationship problems, and the inability to get your partner pregnant.

That is why it is important for one to seek treatment or medication after consultation with the doctor on the best erectile dysfunction treatment.


In conclusion, Erectile dysfunction is a condition that can be easily treated.

There are numerous methods available for treating the condition, and each is best depending on the cause of ED.

Prescribing a medication for yourself without the approval of a doctor could lead to severe effects.

In case you are under medication, and you still feel the side effects of the drugs, you should visit the doctor to reverse such effects.

When under medication already i.e., taking drugs to cure a different illness, you should inform your doctor in advance so theta they can take precautionary measures when issuing you the prescriptions.

Taking both medications at the same time could lead to poisoning or overdosage.