Erectile dysfunction can feel frustrating and embarrassing and may heavily impact relationships. So much so that 70% of men with erectile dysfunction feel ‘they are letting their partner down’ and would rather break up with their partners than talk about the issue.
However, erectile dysfunction is extremely common, and most men will experience it at some point in their lives. If you are struggling with ED regularly, read on for the symptoms, causes, and treatments – as well as how taking an Erectile Dysfunction Blood Test, can help you understand the root of the issue.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED, is when the penis cannot get erect or maintain a full erection for very long. It’s common for men of all ages to experience erectile dysfunction at some point. However, it can be frustrating and embarrassing for men who experience it regularly, causing them to hide it from their other half.
50% of men aged 40 and above have erectile dysfunction. That statistic may not surprise you, but although ED is regularly associated with older men, it also occurs at a young age. 50% of men experience ED by 35 years old. So, all in all, men are unlikely to walk through life without ever experiencing erection issues.
How Erections Work
The brain transmits signals to nerves in the penis when a man experiences arousal. These signals cause a rush of blood toward the penis by relaxing the corpora cavernosa (tissue that runs the length of the penis, containing blood vessels). The tissue expands, making the penis hard to form an erection.
Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction
- Low libido – Lack of sex drive may be due to hormones in the body inhibiting or blocking testosterone needed for sex.
- Difficulty getting an erection – It’s common to struggle with an erection now and then, but if it’s a regular occurrence, you may want to see a doctor.
- Unable to maintain an erection – Restricted blood flow and psychological issues, among other things, can make it challenging to keep an erection for very long.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
If you’ve ever had intercourse while intoxicated, you probably know it takes longer than usual. That’s because alcohol slows down the senses, making it difficult to feel pleasurable sensations. The slow signaling also impairs a nerve’s ability to stimulate the penis and decreases blood flow, which is vital for an erection.
This condition means insulin is not absorbed correctly by the body to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time the glucose builds in your bloodstream and hardens the vessels, making it difficult for blood to pass through and reach the penis. Learning how to manage diabetes will increase your chances of treating erectile dysfunction.
Drugs and Medication
Prescription drugs for anxiety, depression, or physical conditions usually balance hormones in a specific area of the body. However, these medications do not treat the body as a whole and, therefore, may imbalance another area, causing a disruption in different hormones or restricting blood flow.
High blood pressure
When blood pressure is too high, it injures blood vessel walls until they harden and shrink (like scar tissue). It stops blood from adequately reaching the penis and can cause ED.
The mind is a powerful thing, so powerful in fact that it can influence the way your body works. Therefore, your emotions and thoughts, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and OCD, may affect your ability to get an erection.
However, not all men who have psychological ED have mental health issues. Sometimes it can be due to nervousness, relationship trouble, or stress in your personal and professional life.
Speaking of stress, it’s a killer when it comes to sex. When you feel stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which triggers the sympathetic nervous system responsible for fight or flight. Although the cause was because of predators, modern-day stressors include busy cities, too many emails, and exams.
Cortisol releases glucose, so you have the energy to run or fight in a dangerous situation, and it blocks testosterone, which you need for your sex drive. If you have a low libido, it’s challenging to get an erection.
Sleep is crucial for a healthy and functioning body. It’s a time when your body flushes toxins and repairs cells and muscles. When you are sleep-deprived, having sex is the last thing on your mind. You may struggle to find the energy and therefore suffer ongoing ED.
Comparing real sex to porn
Porn often feeds unrealistic expectations about sex, such as the man’s stamina, ability to please their partner, and the length of the penis. A lack of sex education or the assumption that men must adhere to these porn standards can create performance pressure and anxiety.
However, it is vital to remember that porn is a form of entertainment and therefore does not show realistic standards. If you find yourself comparing your sex life to porn, then stop consuming it and see how you feel. If you still struggle with ED, other issues may be causing your ability to gain an erection.
Ways to Treat Erectile Dysfunction
- Medication – A common way to overcome ED is using medication (such as Viagra) that relaxes the muscles and increases blood flow. However, these are short-term resolutions and often trigger side effects.
- Managing diabetes – If you have diabetes, then learning to care for it will reduce the risk of glucose hardening the blood vessels and restricting blood flow.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Foods that spike blood sugar and risk clogging the arteries (such as refined and processed foods) will increase the chances of ED. It disrupts hormones essential for sex drive and decreases blood circulation.
- Exercising – If you haven’t picked up on it already, you probably realise that healthy blood flow is crucial for an erection. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, so it doesn’t need to work as hard to pump blood around the body.
- Going to therapy – If you are healthy and active but still experience ED, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression may be the cause. Attending therapy or counselling can help you reach the root of the problem and rewire a negative mindset to build your confidence and sexual performance. You can also take medication for mental illness, but it is still short-term and comes with its side effects. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use it in combination with therapy.
- Eating foods that increase blood flow – Getting the correct nutrition will reduce inflammation, widening the blood vessels and, therefore, the circulation of blood to the penis.
- Get a blood test – An Erectile Dysfunction Blood Test determines your testosterone and cholesterol levels and the risk of diabetes, identifying underlying causes of ED.
- Get enough sleep – You need between 7-10 hours of sleep. 10 hours is on the higher side, and people usually need that amount of rest if they have a medical condition. Some people believe they can function effectively on 6 hours of sleep. However, this only accounts for 3% of the population. Many people who think they only need a short rest have simply adapted to a lack of it.
What is the fastest way to cure ED?
Medications for ED are the quickest way to treat erectile dysfunction. However, they are temporary and short-term treatments. Most cases of ED are curable, but getting to the root cause is essential. Eating the right nutrients, regularly exercising, treating diabetes, and counselling for psychological issues are just a few ways to resolve ED.
Can erectile dysfunction get cured?
Yes. However, it is on a case-by-case basis. If you have a long-term medical condition, it may be challenging to reverse ED permanently, but many men with erectile dysfunction can treat it through diet, exercise, and counselling.
How long can the average man stay erect?
Approximately 3-30 minutes. However, this varies on the situation. Some men may experience a longer length of time, for example, through a regular practice of maintaining an erection and using specific toys or a shorter period depending on arousal levels.
Many Causes of Erectile Dysfunction are Curable
Although lots of factors can induce ED, there are many treatments to reduce or reverse it. A great place to start is to take a blood test so you can check your hormone levels and work to balance them to cure ED. Remember, it’s perfectly normal to experience erectile dysfuntion, and if you are struggling, you are not alone.
Written by Emma Carey.
Emma is a health and wellness enthusiast who likes to know the science behind how supplements, vitamins, nutrition and exercise affect the body. She’s on a health and fitness journey to improve her lifestyle and live life to its fullest.
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