Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the medical term for erection problems and is further defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual activity.
Approximately 1/3 of men aged over 40 years old report some degree of ED and this number increases with age. This is not a disease but usually a physical and/or psychological problem that can affect men and their partner.
Your sexual activity can be affected by many things including existing diseases such as diabetes, surgeries to bowel, or abdomen, certain medications such as some blood pressure and depression medications and lifestyle choices such as alcohol input, smoking and exercise.
ED is also a side effect of prostate surgery. Younger, healthy, sexually active men are more likely to recover erections after treatment than those that only occasionally are sexually active or already have difficulty maintaining erections. Surgery, radiation treatment and hormone replacement therapy can all affect your erectile function.
Erectile function results from a complex interaction of blood flow through the penis, nerve activation and muscular factors as well as many emotional factors. Your pelvic floor muscles play a large role in maintaining your erection as they sit at the base of your penis.
Erectile dysfunction can present as:
- Complete loss of erectile function
- Partial loss of erectile function
- Premature ejaculation
Management of Erectile Dysfunction includes:
- A thorough assessment of the condition, medical history and current health, including diet and fluid intake, exercise levels and mobility, all the medicines you are currently taking, and any other factors that could affect erectile function
- Physical assessment of the pelvic floor function, strength and endurance
- Rehabilitation which may include pelvic floor exercises and life style changes including suggestions regarding diet, drug use, mental health and exercise.
- Education regarding other treatment options available for erectile function including certain medications and devices.
Outcomes from treatment may include:
- Improved sexual function
- Maintenance of functional erection for sexual activity
- Increased confidence