It is normal for men to sometimes have difficulty getting or keeping an erection. Erectile dysfunction is not actually diagnosed until there’s an ongoing problem, which is usually caused by an underlying issue.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction can be due to physical causes (e.g., diseases or other medical conditions), emotional trauma (e.g., stress, depression, performance anxiety), or lifestyle issues (e.g., smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity).
ED symptoms may include:
- The inability to obtain an erection
- The inability to maintain an erection
Some men may also experience a decrease in sexual desire.
What Causes an Erection?
In order to get and keep an erection, your brain, spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels all need to be functioning properly. During an erection, the brain sends a signal to the nerves to dilate the blood vessels to the penis so that blood can flow in. The blood vessels are also responsible for keeping the blood in the penis so that the erection is not lost.
Certain diseases or conditions, such as heart disease, clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can constrict or damage the blood vessels and restrict blood flow to the penis (or cause blood to flow back out one you’ve obtained an erection). Lifestyle choices, such as cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse can also cause damage to blood vessels.
Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson ’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis, can interfere with the signals going from the brain, to the spinal cord, to the nerves that are responsible for an erection.
There are also psychological causes of erectile dysfunction, including depression; stress over work, home, or relationship issues; and anxiety over a previous inability to get or keep an erection (performance anxiety).
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is diagnosed based on the following:
- Ongoing symptoms of impotence
- A complete medical history
- A thorough medical exam (including an examination of the penis, nerves to the penis, testes, and prostate)
Call A Urologist About Your ED Symptoms When:
- Erectile dysfunction is linked with anxiety or threatens your sexual relationship. Dr. Jones can help you understand what may be causing the problem. Anxiety over misinformation may be exacerbating your sexual problem. In many cases, this can be resolved through temporary use of oral medications.
- Erectile dysfunction is persistent. This can be an early warning sign of more serious physical conditions such as diabetes and vascular disease. Dr. Jones may suggest a medication, penile injection therapy or use of a mechanical device to produce a normal erection. However, it is very important that the underlying medical condition is diagnosed and treated.
- Erection problems are associated with pain or Peyronie’s disease (penile curvature)
For more information on ED symptoms, contact Leroy Jones, MD, urology doctor of San Antonio.