Nearly half of men by age 50 experience some degree of erectile dysfunction in their lives.
It occurs when a man can’t get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.
Although erectile dysfunction may not fall in the life-threatening category, it can seriously affect a man’s quality of life and relationship.
Dr. Susan MacDonald is a urological surgeon at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
She suggests that men should talk about the issue during their routine medical check-ups.
It is not a disease but can be a symptom of some other problem, either physical, psychological or a mixture of both.
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is aging. Other causes include heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and breakdown of the nerves caused by diabetes.
Previous research has shown that men who have diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than men who do not have diabetes.
In addition, erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of many common medicines, such as blood pressure medicines, medicines used for prostate cancer therapy, antidepressants, medicines that make you calmer or sleepy, appetite suppressants, or medicines that make you less hungry, and ulcer medicines.
The easiest and most common treatments are drugs such as Levitra, Viagra, and Cialis that can be taken before intercourse.
But men who take drug nitroglycerin for heart issues cannot take the pills.
Other treatment options include injectable drugs, external vacuum pumps, and an intra-urethral suppository tab that dissolves and creates an erection.
Men can also choose the penile implant, which is a surgical solution.
It includes a pump in the scrotum so a man can control his erections. The surgery can treat penile curvature as well as erectile dysfunction.
However, if erectile dysfunction occurs at a younger age, it may be a sign of early heart disease.
It is important for men to have a frank conversation with their primary care doctor about any health issues.