By Dr Enoch Udo & Dr Emaediong Akpan-Ekpo
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction(ED) is the inability of a man to achieve and /or maintain sufficient penile erection adequate for a successful sexual intercourse (modified from NIH definition). Either their erection is not firm enough for penetration to happen, or they’re struggling to get an erection, keep an erection, and then may ejaculate too soon to allow themselves or their partners to experience enough pleasure so that they may become orgasmic.
Most people at one point in their life time experience erectile dysfunction. The challenges facing those that suffer from erectile dysfunction depends on the age of the patient but a common denominator to all irrespective of age is stigmatization. Many people suffering from this silent killer seek help personally and from sources that are potentially dangerous if not immediately devastating.
What are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
The most likely cause of ED in a particular patient depends own the age of the patient and his associated health condition ether at present or in the past.
In early adulthood/adolescents
- Performance anxiety/inexperience
- Dysfunctional relationship e.g a nagging wife
- Fibrosis of the penile shaft
- Uncorrected hypospadias especially when chordee is prominent
- Sickle cell disease
- Trauma to the spinal cord or penile shaft
- Certain neurological diseases.
- In late adulthood
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Penile/pelvic surgeries
- Drugs e.g thiazides
- Substance abuse
- Hormonal dysfunction
How to Combat Erectile Dysfunction
There are ways to Combat ED. Lifestyle modification and optimizing the general health is the first step in treating ED. This includes, reduction in alcohol intake, smoking cessation, weight loss, and exercise.
Partners of men with ED have to be supportive and understanding. In most cases, talking therapy and behavioral adjustment can help especially when psychology is the primary cause. In other cases treatment starts with the treatment of the underlying disease. While awaiting treatment of the underlying disease or where the cause is irreversible pharmacotherapy and/or mechanical modalities are applied including surgery.