What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence, is a condition that involves not being able to achieve or sustain an erection that allows you to have sex.
At what age does erectile dysfunction affect men?
Erectile dysfunction can affect men of any age, but is more common as men get older. In younger men, psychological issues are often the cause of ED. In older men, ED more frequently has an underlying physical cause, such as diseases like heart disease or diabetes.
Do all men suffer from erectile dysfunction as they get older?
Erectile dysfunction does not have to happen as you age. Some older men can only achieve an erection with extra stimulation (like touching and stroking), but they should still be able to have a satisfying sex life.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Many things can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
- Diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease
- Surgery for prostate cancer and other conditions
- Medications for high blood pressure and depression
- Trauma to the groin, including a fractured pelvis or injury to the genitalia
- Smoking or excessive alcohol intake.
Can I prevent erectile dysfunction?
Erections depend upon a strong blood flow to the penis, so activities that reduce your risk of heart disease may also prevent or improve your erectile dysfunction. This includes:
- exercising at least 150 minutes a week
- maintaining a healthy weight
- giving up smoking
- drinking less (or no) alcohol
- monitoring your cholesterol level and blood pressure, and obtaining treatment, as needed.
What treatments are available for erectile dysfunction?
In addition to lifestyle changes and addressing underlying medical conditions, erectile dysfunction can be treated in many ways, including:
- Oral medications (such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra) that produce an erection
- Sex therapy to deal with psychological issues like anxiety or stress
- Vacuum device which produces an erection (even without sexual activity)
- Penile injections with drugs similar to the oral medications
- Surgery to improve the flow of blood to the penis(vascular) or to implant a penile prosthesis.
Your doctor can explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options.
Do medications like Viagra work well for erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra are the most common treatment, and are effective in about 60 to 70 percent of men. These medications have minimal side effects.
Will my insurance cover treatment for erectile dysfunction?
Treatments for an underlying medical condition that is causing erectile dysfunction (such as heart disease) are usually covered in part or full by insurance. Medications that have not been approved by the FDA as well as sex therapy, are unlikely to be covered. You can contact your insurance provider or doctor for more information.