Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes and Symptoms | How to Protect Erection?

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha

Most common sexual performance problem in men of all ages and especially with aging is erectile dysfunction (ED).

What is ED?

Inability to get an erection (i.e. hardness/firmness of the penis) and sustaining the erection for sexual activity or sexual intercourse in men, is referred to as ED.

Symptoms of ED

  1. The person does not get erections at all at any time and the penis is flaccid/soft/limp all the time.
  2. Unable to get erections when wanting to perform sexual intercourse.
  3. Inability to sustain the erection for some time as to take part in sexual intercourse.
  4. May be associated with psychological symptoms such as low libido, lack of interest in sexual functions, depression/anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of sleep, irritability, and developing suicidal thoughts.
  5. Can have associated symptoms related to co-existing medical and surgical conditions.

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Causes of ED Problems

ED problems/dysfunction can be caused by many factors like:

  • Vascular (problems of Blood vessels)
  • Neurogenic (problems of nerves)
  • Hormonal
  • Psychological
  • Others

1. Vascular: Erection problems occur due to decreased blood flow to the penis because of problems affecting the blood vessels.

    • Atherosclerosis
    • Heart disease
    • Hypertension
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease

2. Neurogenic: Causes due to problems arising from the Brain, nervous system, Spinal cord and the nerves supplying the penis .

    • Cerebrovascular disease – STROKE
    • Type 2 Diabetes with polyneuropathy
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Epilepsy/seizure disorder
    • Parkinson’s disease

3. Hormonal: Causes are due to hormonal imbalances which affect penile function.

    • Low testosterone level
    • High prolactin level
    • Low thyroid hormone level
    • Abnormal hormone levels in diseases like Diabetes, adrenal glands disorders, chronic kidney or liver diseases.

4. Psychological:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Low sex drive
    • Fear of sexual performance
    • Low self-esteem / Low confidence
    • Guilt and fear of rejection

5. Others:

    • Overweight / Obesity and unhealthy lifestyle
    • Sedentary life – Lack of exercise
    • Habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse
    • Lack of proper sleep

How to Protect Your Erection?

Many treatments are available for correcting ED and to protect your erection depending on the causes.

1. Drugs / Medicines / Pills – which act directly on the male sex organ penis.

    • PDE-5 (Phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitors – such as Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Vardenafil, and Avanafil.
    • They act by improving the blood flow to the penis giving it firmness and the ability to stay hard longer.
    • These medications to be taken after a doctor’s consultation as medical evaluation can be done before using them. Be aware of the possible side effects before consuming them.
    • They have to be taken 30mts-60mts before the sexual activity.

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2. Medications for the various underlying medical disorders need to be taken, ex- medicines for Diabetes, High Blood pressure etc.

3. Surgery –

    • Vascular surgeries to correct the problems due to blood vessels to improve blood flow to penis.
    • Any other required surgeries for underlying problems.
    • Penile implants who have no option of medical interventions.

4. Psychological counseling is the most important part of any treatment for Erctile Dysfunction, as it can relax the mind and overcome the uncomfortable symptom, remove anxiety and help give men self-confidence.

Natural Ways (Home Remedies) to Overcome Erectile Problems

  1. Yoga – Regular yoga can relax the body and mind reducing stress and increasing the good hormones.
  2. Healthy Diet – Which consists of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, which help in various biological processes associated with erections.
  3. Exercise – Regular physical activity and pelvic floor exercises can help tackle erectile problems.
  4. Adequate Sleep – Good sleep for 7-8 hrs every night is essential to relax the body and mind and improve sexual function.
  5. STOP smoking, drug abuse and restrict alcoteshol.
  6. Weight loss for overweight and obese people helps to improve sexual function and renders a feeling of well being.

Natural Herbs / Extracts and Minerals Which Aid in Erectile Problems

Natural herbs act via many mechanisms and few herbs have been clinically proven to be of use in erectile problems. Some herbs help increase the blood flow to the male sex organs and also act like aphrodisiacs improving the sexual functions.

Some of the herbs and minerals known to improve sexual health are Ashwaganda, Ginko Biloba, Shatavari, Safed musli, Gokshura, Tulasi beej, Zinc, magnesium, Vit D3 etc. Bio enhancers like bioprene must also be taken along with the herbs and minerals in order to have an effective absorption across the intestinal wall.

There will not be any effect if most of the vitamins, minerals and herbs get excreted without being absorbed.

It is idea to consult a doctor for moderate to severe problem or if associated with other significant medical issues.

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