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Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that occurs when a man is no longer capable of achieving or maintaining an erection that is firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Occasional trouble with maintaining an erection is not typically a cause for any concern, but when erectile dysfunction becomes an ongoing issue, this is when it is more serious. Erectile dysfunction can cause serious self-confidence, stress and relationship issues if it goes untreated.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Erectile Dysfunction

The sexual arousal process for men is complex and involves numerous parts including the hormones, the brain, the nerves, the emotions, blood vessels and muscles. When erectile dysfunction occurs, it can be due to a problem with any of these parts, which is why it is worth looking into the specific causes anytime it occurs. Some of the physical causes associated with erectile dysfunction include: heart disease, high cholesterol, clogged blood vessels known as atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, Parkinsons disease, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, low testosterone, Peyronies disease, tobacco usage, surgeries or injuries affecting the area, treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, alcoholism, substance abuse and some prescription medications.

There are a number of potential complications that can arise from erectile dysfunction. First and foremost, erectile dysfunction can lead to an unsatisfactory sex life, anxiety or stress, low self-esteem or embarrassment, relationship or marital problems and the inability to start a family. Because so many health conditions can cause erectile dysfunction, prolonged erectile dysfunction problems should always be diagnosed by a medical professional in order to determine the underlying cause.

Signs, Symptoms and Tests of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction can be defined as any situation where a male cannot maintain or achieve an erection. However, the only type of erectile dysfunction that matters is that which is prolonged. Persistent difficulty achieving an erection, difficulty maintaining an erection or a reduction in sexual desire can all indicate a serious issue, which should be looked at by a trained physician.

The important issue is to determine what underlying issues are causing the erectile dysfunction, which typically will allow the condition to resolve itself. Tests that a physician may utilize can include: physical examinations, blood tests, urinalysis or urine tests, ultrasound, psychological exams and an overnight erection test. This is because most men experience erections while asleep without realizing it. Measuring these erections while the patient is asleep can help determine the cause for the problem.

Treatment, Drugs and Prevention of Erectile Dysfunction

If there is an underlying medical condition that is causing the erectile dysfunction, then the physician will want to treat this first. This includes, not only conditions causing the erectile dysfunction, but also any condition that may be exacerbating it. Next, there are a number of different treatments that a physician can recommend for treating the erectile problems depending on the severity and cause of the condition as well as any underlying health problems. Oral medications prescribed for erectile dysfunction include: Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. There are other medications and treatment options that may also be recommended including penile implants, penis pumps, testosterone replacements, Alprostadil penis suppositories, Alprostadil self injections, blood vessel surgeries and psychological counseling.