Did you know more than 50% of American men experience erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition in which men cannot maintain an erection, get fully erect, or have any erection at all?
Although getting an erection may seem simple, the fact is that many body systems need to work together for you to get — and maintain — an erection through ejaculation. This includes coordination among your hormones, muscles, cardiovascular system, brain, nerves, and emotions.
For this reason, many things can contribute to the development of ED. Not only does ED pump the brakes on your romantic life, but it’s also a source of frustration and even embarrassment.
At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, our providers specialize in helping men overcome the frustration of ED and reclaim their sex life using different effective treatments.
We also want you to understand some of the causes of ED and how we can help restore your sexual health. Keep reading for a closer look at four causes of ED and the ways we can help.
1. High blood pressure (hypertension)
About 80% of the time, a physical issue triggers ED, the most common being chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension. Men with hypertension are at least two times more likely to have ED than men with normal blood pressure.
Researchers believe these numbers could be much higher since men often don’t report ED to their health care providers. Hypertension damages your blood vessels, making it difficult for the arteries that supply your penis to function normally.
As a result, your penis can’t get enough blood to make or keep it erect. Men with hypertension are twice as likely to have low testosterone compared to men without this condition.
Scientists are still investigating the link between hypertension and low testosterone, but they do know low testosterone can contribute to erectile issues and low libido.
2. Type 2 diabetes
Your body converts food into energy using insulin. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body can’t use this hormone the right way. Over time, this causes high blood sugar levels, which damage your vascular and nervous systems.
Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have ED than men without diabetes. In fact, researchers report up to 75% of men with Type 2 diabetes also struggle with sexual dysfunction.
Scientists are still studying this correlation, but they believe this pairing can happen for several reasons, including:
- Nerve damage, which inhibits sensation in the penis
- Blood vessel damage, which limits blood flow needed for erections
- The use of medications that can affect sexual health
Type 2 diabetes also increases your risk of many other conditions linked to ED, such as heart disease.
3. Depression and other mental health issues
If you have depression or another mental health issue, like anxiety, your risk of having ED increases. Your ED may cause depression or anxiety, or your mental health condition may contribute to ED. For most men, though, the two are connected in a complicated relationship.
This is because, in large part, sexual urges and desire start in your head rather than in your body. And for sexual intercourse to work, both psychological and physical factors must work together.
Mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, can cause imbalanced brain chemicals. When this happens, it can interrupt the signals from your brain to your penis. And when you can’t sexually perform, it can make you anxious or depressed, exacerbating ED symptoms.
4. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, affect your oxygen levels. They can cause your testosterone levels to drop. Since both oxygen and testosterone are key factors in getting and maintaining healthy erections, sleep disorders are highly correlated to ED.
Although scientists are still researching this connection, they do know that treating sleep disorders, and sleep apnea in particular, has a positive effect on the symptoms of ED. If you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about treatment, as it may also help your ED.
Help for erectile dysfunction
Effective treatments exist to help you enjoy sex again, including medications to strengthen erections and make them more attainable, penile implants, penis pumps, and noninvasive, pain-free GAINSWave®.
Instead of only increasing blood flow to the penis for a limited period, GAINSWave addresses one of the underlying problems that causes the condition in the first place. GAINSWave uses pulsed acoustic wave technology to improve blood flow to your penis.
This treatment stimulates your body’s natural healing processes, increasing production of stem cells and growth factors to help create new blood vessels (revascularization) around the base of your penis so more blood flows naturally to your penis.
If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, schedule an appointment with a specialist at Urological Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California.