Understanding Erectile Dysfunction
Having a healthy sex life is one of the key factors for a successful relationship. Unfortunately, there are many issues that may hinder the normal sexual activity of a couple. One of the most common ones is erectile dysfunction, a condition that makes men unable to achieve and maintain an erection. In this article, we are going to inform the reader about the causes, diagnosis methods and also the available treatment options. But first, it is important to understand how the erection mechanism works and locate what exactly causes it to fail.
When a man receives sufficient sexual stimulation, his body produces nitric oxides, which then 'pairs' with receptors of guanylate cyclase, thus increasing the concentration levels of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). The cGMP increase triggers a rise of the blood flow in the penis tissue, finally resulting in an erection.
The inability to complete the aforementioned procedure is caused by an enzyme known as cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5). All it does is prevent the accumulation of cGMP making the erection impossible. So, this is the way the problem manifests itself, but what factors cause it?
There are a few possible causes of erectile dysfunction:
- Psychological issues like stress, mental disorders or even performance anxiety (the man is stressed because he is not sure he will perform successfully). The more intense the level of stress, the bigger the problem becomes.
- Reduced function of the kidneys or total kidney failure.
- Disorders that affect the nervous system.
- Smoking since it is known to narrow arteries, reducing the required blood flow towards the penis.
- Aging. A recent study has shown that erectile dysfunctions issues are about four times less common in men who are around 40 years old than men in their 60s.
- Peyronie’s disease. It is an inflammation (usually chronic) that affects the penis tissues.
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction is not as easy as it seems. There is not a specific method that has been made formal, so the exam type depends solely on the judgment of the medical examiner. The most widespread tests are penile biothesiometry, corpus cavernosometry, duplex ultrasound, dynamic infusion cavernosometry and magnetic resonance angiography.
Both men who don’t have any erectile problems and men suffering from erectile dysfunction know about one specific treatment against the condition. That is the usage of the approved ED drugs namely Viagra, Cialis, Levitra or some other PDE-5 inhibitor drugs. However, medicine is constantly achieving breakthroughs, creating more and more ways to battle a certain issue. So, besides the well known pills, there are some other treatment options. Men can use a topical cream or even a drug in the form of an injection. The latest treatment method is called extracorporeal shockwave therapy, a procedure already used in urology, cardiology and orthopedics. It does not require any type of drugs or surgery plus it has almost zero side effects.
Every new “weapon” against erectile dysfunction is a tool to improve the sexual life of couples. We have gone from zero treatment options to quite a few in a really small amount of time. This is yet another sample of the importance of scientific progress and the degree to which it improves the quality of our lives.