While many men may feel that it is an embarrassing problem, you are not alone if you experience erectile dysfunction. About 1 in every 5 men over the age of 35 experience this issue, and about 1 in 10 men cannot have erections. It’s a condition that’s more common for older men but often affects younger men too.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. You might have trouble getting hard or lose an erection during intercourse. It can be mild, moderate, or severe, and doesn’t always mean that you can never get an erection.
What are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?
If you have erectile dysfunction, you might experience:
- Difficulty getting hard enough for penetration
- Difficulty maintaining an erection
- Losing your erection throughout intercourse
- Loss of confidence during sex
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
There could be multiple contributing factors to cause erectile dysfunction. Some of the contributing factors include age, weight (obesity), and cardiovascular health.
Other contributing factors can include:
- Cigarette smoking or vaping
- Pelvic surgery
- Pelvic radiation
- Pelvic trauma
- Penile abnormalities e.g. Peyronie’s Disease
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, etc.
- Spinal cord disorders
- Endocrinological (thyroid disorder, hyperprolactinemia, hypogonadism)
- Substance abuse
There can also be psychological and psychiatric issues, such as problems with self-image, anxiety or depression, and partner-related stress, guilt, or situational anxiety. Some medications can also cause erectile dysfunction, as can a history of sexual abuse.
What is Involved in Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction?
When diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction, it’s important for doctors to check for underlying conditions. These include hypogonadism, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. You can also talk more generally about your symptoms, lifestyle, and health.
What is the Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction?
Focused Shockwave Therapy has been shown to improve erectile dysfunction and erectile hardness scores (Dong et al, 2019). This type of treatment is most suitable for men who have vascular-driven erectile dysfunction, meaning they have poor blood flow to the penis. Focused Shockwave Therapy uses low-frequency sound waves from a handheld applicator, which releases focused energy into the targeted tissue. It can have several positive effects, including increased blood flow.
Sydney Pelvic Clinic provides Focused Shockwave Therapy, helping to correct Erectile Dysfunction with just one powerful tool.
Are There Any Home-based Treatment Options?
Erectile Dysfunction can be treated using various methods, depending on the possible cause. Improving the function of the pelvic floor can be helpful, using exercises to strengthen or relax it. Physiotherapists can provide you with exercises to perform at home, but we recommend these as part of an overall treatment plan overseen by your physiotherapist. Some might find that penile pumps are useful too.
5 Tips to Prevent and Manage Erectile Dysfunction
- Keep your heart healthy
- Manage stress
- Avoid smoking (nicotine)
- Maintain a healthy pelvic floor
- Exercise regularly – 4 x 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week
Common Myths about Erectile Dysfunction
Myth #1: Erectile dysfunction can’t be treated.
Truth: It’s never too late to optimise your pelvic floor muscles and get the strength back.
Myth #2: Erectile Dysfunction means weak pelvic floor muscles.
Truth: Tension in the pelvic floor can also cause Erectile Dysfunction.
Myth #3: Only older men get erectile dysfunction.
Truth: Whilst it is true that it is more common in older men, younger men can also experience Erectile Dysfunction. At Sydney Pelvic Clinic, we see men in their 20’s and 30’s with Erectile Dysfunction.
Myth #4: Viagra is the only treatment available.
Truth: Other methods include physiotherapy, sex therapy, and couple’s counselling.
Myth #5: Erectile Dysfunction only occurs because of relationship problems.
Truth: While relationship issues can be a big factor, they’re not the only cause of Erectile Dysfunction.