If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, or impotence, you’re not alone. In Australia, about 1 in 5 men over the age of 40 report that they are unable to get or keep an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse. And the chance of having problems with erections increases with age.
Erectile dysfunction is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of other problems, which may be physical or psychological, or a combination of both.
Physical problems can include other health conditions that affect blood flow (such as narrowing of the arteries), blood vessel function (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity) or nerve function (such as multiple sclerosis, diabetic nerve damage and spinal cord trauma). Excess alcohol, drug use, certain prescription medications and smoking can also be causes.
Psychological factors causing erectile function include performance anxiety, relationship problems, sexual attitudes and upbringing, stress and depression.
There are many treatment options for erectile dysfunction, depending on the cause. These include medications, self-injection therapy, surgery, devices such as vacuum pumps, hormone therapy and counselling. While medications are now commonly available, they don’t work for all men and may be unsafe if you have other health problems or are taking certain medications so it’s important to get advice from your doctor before taking these.
If you suffer from erectile dysfunction make an appointment to see your GP. While it can be difficult to talk about, there’s no need to be embarrassed. Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition and may be a sign of an underlying health problem. Your doctor can help determine the cause and discuss the best treatment option for you.