One out of every two men over the age of 40 has erectile dysfunction (ED), and men under 40 often get this condition as well. The truth is that problems with sexual intercourse are more common than you think, so you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Why? Because we’re all humans grappling with the struggles of life, both mentally and physically. But that doesn’t mean we have to live in a state of shame or fear of the future. While sexual dysfunction might be uncomfortable to talk about for most, there’s a lot more you can do about than you think.
Mental and Emotional Factors
First, we’ll briefly tackle the mental and emotional factors of sexual dysfunction in men. Sometimes, these can be enough to cause ED in men who are completely healthy, so if you’re suffering from sexual dysfunction, assess your moods and current mental state first.
If you’re stressed out from life, such as handling a large amount of work or having a tense relationship with your spouse, the anxiety and tension from those areas of life can bleed into your sex life. It can make a challenge to achieve arousal since you may be distracted or not in the mood for sex.
Also, if you’ve failed to get or maintain an erection before, you may develop performance anxiety. You might get too lost in your thoughts and fears of disappointing your partner, which can actually sabotage your efforts to successfully have sex.
Some mental health issues can also affect your sex life. For instance, if you have depression or anxiety, it can cause your libido to drop. You may not feel in the mood to have sex or it may take more stimulation to get into it.
Let’s Get Clinical- What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the lack of desire for sexual activity, the inability to obtain or maintain an erection during sexual activity or the inability to ejaculate or climax.
Sexual intercourse may appear to be simple, but it is actually a complex process that involves most of the major organs of your body.
First, the brain and nervous system allow for the delivery of pleasurable feelings. This triggers the muscular system which helps to maintain an erection. Finally, the cardiovascular system that delivers the blood to your penis.
Disease or damage to any of these organs, or the organs and systems in your body that support them, can impact a man’s sexual function. Understanding the underlying causes can help you better understand how treatment can help to eliminate ED.
As with most things, prevention is key and is most often achieved by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Causes of Sexual Dysfunction in Men
Mild and moderate erectile dysfunction affects approximately 10% of men per decade of their life.
Too much alcohol is known to cause temporary impotence, but did you know that biking for a long time can do the same thing. Really, any activity where you sit for a long period of time and restrict blood flow to your genitals can cause temporary impotence.
Erectile dysfunction can also be the symptom of underlying medical issues. In most cases there are treatment options, so be sure to consult with a physician either in person or remotely (via telemedicine) to address both your sexual dysfunction and your overall health.
1. Endocrine System Disorders
Your endocrine system controls the hormones in your body. Diabetes is the most common endocrine system disease that affects male sexual dysfunction. Your physician checks your blood sugar as part of your routine physical. If you have elevated blood sugar or full-blown Type I or Type II diabetes, treat it. Failure to do so will result in a significant increase in overall mortality, but will also negatively affect your sex life in the long run.
There are other hormone imbalances that affect your sexual performance. For example, men lose testosterone as they age, just as women lose estrogen, which contributes to sexual dysfunction in men.
2. Nerve Disorders
The nerves endings that support erections are sensitive and can be damaged. Strokes, even mild ones, can impact the nerves that control your penis. Muscular Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and Spinal Cord Injuries can also impact performance. In the later, men can go on to have healthy and productive sex lives as treatment options are available.
3. Cardiovascular Disease
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in men. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol & atherosclerosis. These are also major risk factors for male sexual dysfunction. The good news is these are all preventable. Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense, but medication can also help to address the underlying risk factors.
The key here is you have to treat it and stay on track with your prescriptions. At the end, you will find a list of lifestyle modifications that will benefit both your health and your performance. You know them, but they bear repeating.
93.3 Million Adults in the U.S. were obese in 2015-2016 according to the CDC. Obesity itself does not cause erectile dysfunction, however, it contributes to increasing rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease which do.
You do not have to become a Vegan or look like Rambo to be healthy. Modifications to your overall lifestyle will help you to lose weight or prevent weight gain.
5. Prostate Cancer
Although modern medicine can identify and successfully treat prostate cancer. It often comes at a cost. In this instance, be sure to talk to your surgeon and oncologist to determine the right course of action for your physical and sexual health.
6. Kidney Disease
An individual with kidney disease, regardless of the cause, is at increased risk for sexual dysfunction. The kidneys filter the blood and have a significant impact on blood pressure. The medications to treat kidney disease also carry the side effect of male sexual dysfunction.
7. Prescription Drugs
If you’re taking a prescription medication and begin experiencing sexual dysfunction, don’t stop taking the drugs you are prescribed, but speak with your doctor to explore options. Below are the types of drugs that may cause impotence.
These types of antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction:
- tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, imipramine, and doxepin);
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (isocarboxazid and phenelzine);
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline);
- selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs) (duloxetine and venlafaxine).
Chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin, vincristine, and bortezomib can cause damage to nerves and is called peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can sometimes the nerves that control erections.
Blood Pressure Drugs
Blood Pressure medications effects how blood flows. This can prevent enough blood from reaching the penis and as a result, makes maintaining an erection difficult. These drugs include:
- beta blockers (such as atenolol and metprolol);
- diuretics (hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone);
Drugs that Decrease or Block Testosterone
These drugs may decrease your interest in sex. Below is a list of a few:
- older antihistamines (diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate);
- heart medications (digoxin and spironolactone);
- corticosteroids (prednisone and methylprednisolone);
- antiandrogens (cyproterone, flutamide, and bicalutamide);
- opioids (oxycodone and morphine)
- older antipsychotics (chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, and haloperidol).
Do not stop medications without first speaking to your physician.
Trauma and injury to your boys (genitalia) may obviously result in temporary or permanent. But did you know that injuries to your abdominal area can also affect your performance? Even if the injury from your abdominal trauma has healed it may affect your sexual function weeks or months later.
9. Peyronie’s disease
Peyronie’s disease is also called a curved penis. Often the result of scar tissue it can cause significant pain with intercourse and comes with a significant bend in the shape of the penis. Treatment is available.
10. Psychological Factors
Just like golf is a game played between your ears, your mind can control your performance in the bedroom. Fear of a problem between the sheets actually makes it harder to perform. Open communication with your partner will help to ease fears.
We live in a face paced, hectic world where stress is an everyday occurrence. Continued high levels of stress can cause performance issues as well. Find time to unwind, or take your frustrations out at the gym. Your sex life will thank you.
As a result of the stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise. These are not issues to ignore or feel ashamed of, they are quite common. Seek treatment to address immediate anxiety and depression and look for long term solutions to eliminate the root causes.
Finally, a word on fatigue. If you are overly tired your body will struggle to function appropriately. Build yourself a regular sleep into your schedule.
Preventing Erectile Dysfunction
There are many causes of erectile dysfunction but there are also things you can do to prevent it. The first list includes lifestyle modifications. Changing your lifestyle is cheaper than medications, and will address both the issues associated with your overall health as well as your sexual health.
If you are a smoker, quit. There are many ways to do this, and even if you have tried before and failed. Try again.
Exercise regularly, 3-5 days per week for at least 150 minutes. You have heard this before.
Eat and drink in moderation to maintain a healthy weight.
Do not use illegal drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines.
Lifestyle modifications are sometimes not enough. If you have one of the following conditions seek treatment.
- Anxiety or Depression
- Drug or Alcohol problem
What Actions Should You Take?
If you experience any sexual dysfunction, talk to your primary care physician. It may be embarrassing, but they know your medical history the best and can work with you to find a solution. Although sexual dysfunction in men is common it is often treatable with lifestyle changes, medications, supplements, and mechanical support.
If you are still uncomfortable talking with your personal physician, Alpha Now can help. We’ll coordinate a completely virtual doctor’s visit with one of our board-certified physicians. This way, you’ll never have to face the shame or embarrassment of visiting your doctor in person.
The best part? We’ll discreetly ship your ED meds straight to your doorstep.