Erectile dyfunction: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Erectile dyfunction is the problem of getting and maintaining erection for sexual activity. It affects men psychologically by reducing their self-esteem and causing relationship problems. Erectile dysfunction affects all age groups but it is most common in men above the age of 40. This article will look into the meaning of erectile dysfunction, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

What is erectile dyfunction?

Erectile dyfunction is the difficulty in getting and maintaining a penis erection for sexual intercourse. It is usually caused by stress and emotional disorder but if erectile dysfunction becomes persistent it is advisable that you see your health care provider so as to provide a medical solution to the health condition.
The problem of getting or keeping an erection for sexual activity can affect your emotions, cause relationship and also decrease your self-esteem. In several cases erectile dysfunction can be controlled by treating underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

What are the causes of erectile dyfunction?

Erection is stimulated by increased blood flow to the tissue of the penis and this blood flow can be enhanced by direct touch to the penis or through the thought of sex. Erectile dyfunction is commonly caused by psychological and physical problems.

Physical cause of erectile dysfunction

These are health conditions, lifestyles and other factors that can directly affect erection in men.

The physical cause of erectile dyfunction include:

  • High level of cholesterol in the body
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Insufficient testosterone level in the sexual organs
  • Insomnia and sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Injuries to the spinal cord
  • Liver disease
  • Addiction or long-term use of tobacco
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
  • Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin
  • Surgical complications
  • Use of some certain medications

Psychological cause of erectile dyfunction

These are emotional disorders that can interfere with sexual thoughts and feelings thereby affecting the ability to develop and sustain an erection for sex.

The psychological cause of erectile dysfunctions include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems

What are the risk factors of erectile dysfunctions?

These are various conditions or factors that can contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction and they include:

  • Tobacco use: the long-term use of tobacco and smoking can damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis thereby causng inability to develop and maintain erections for sexual activities. Smokers are at higher risk of erectile dyfunction than non-smokers.
  • Health conditions: the health conditions that can contribute to erectile dyfunction include diabetics, hypertension and heart disease.
  • Obesity: being overweight or having an unhealthy weight gain can lead to several health complications and erectile dyfunction is not excluded.
  • Certain medications : some medications that are used to treat high blood pressure, depression, body ache and prostate cancer can also increase the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
  • Psychological problems: some psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress can impair your erection.

Other risk factors include surgical complications, drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption.

Symptoms of erectile dyfunction

Erectile dyfunction is initiated when there is insufficient blood supply to the penis. The following are symptoms that are presented by people who have erectile dyfunction:

  • Difficulty in getting erection
  • Problems in maintaining erection during sexual intercourse
  • Low sex drive
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Premature ejaculation

When do I need to see a doctor?

You need to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of erectile dyfunction if you noticed any of the following health conditions:

  • Persistent weak erection, delayed ejaculation and premature ejaculation
  • Underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetics.

Diagnosis of erectile dyfunction

There are varieties of tests that your doctor will carry out on you to detect erectile dyfunction and the cause of the condition. In other to diagnose erectile dyfunction and recommend effective treatment your doctor will carry out a physical examination on you and also review your medical history.
Physical examination involves examining your testicles and penis and checking your heart and lung functions. Your doctor will also review your medical history by asking several questions that will help to detect and know the severity of the condition. The commonly asked questions include:

  • What is the quality of your erection?
  • Do you have problem with your current relationship?
  • What medications are you currently using?
  • Have you been experiencing any psychological issues such as anxiety, stress and depression?
  • Do you normally have erection at night or in the morning?
  • Do you ejaculate quickly?
  • Do you experience delay in ejaculation?
  • What is your level of desire for sex?
  • Do you have any health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure?
  • When did you start experiencing erectile dyfunction?

You absolutely need to provide honest answers to this questions to assist your doctor in evaluating the severity of the erectile dyfunction and also prescribe an effective medication to control the condition.

  • Urinalysis: this test makes use of urine sample to detect the underlying health conditions such as diabetes, testosterone deficiency kidney disease which can contribute to development of erectile dysfunction.
  • Blood test: the blood sample can also be tested to detect underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and low level of testosterone.
  • Ultrasound: this test involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the blood vessel in the penis in other to check if there is problem with penile blood flow. It is one of the most accurate technique of diagnosing erectile dysfunction
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT): this test is used to measure the number of occurrence of erection while you are asleep. Men usually have 3 to 5 erections while they are asleep and reduction in this number may be as a result of erectile dysfunction. Nocturnal penile tumescence test works by placing an electronic device with two plastic bands on the tip and base of the penis and monitoring nocturnal erections while the man is sleeping.

Treatment of erectile dyfunction

The treatment option for erectile dyfunction depends on the underlying health issues you have and severity of the symptoms.

The following are the treatment option for erectile dyfunction:


Medications that increase blood flow to the penis are very useful in treating erectile dysfunction and include:

  • Sildenafil (viagra)
  • Avanafil (stendra)
  • Tadalafil (cialis)
  • Vardenafil (levitra and starxyn)

These drugs should be taken moderately with prescription to ensure effective treatment. They also have some side effects such as abdominal cramps, flushing, blur vision, back pain and headache. Therefore if you notice any undesirable symptoms after using these medications make sure you report to your doctor for immediate medical treatment.

Vacuum devices

Thiis is a device that stimulate erection by pumping blood to the penis. This treatment option works by placing a tube over the penis, then a pump is used to draw out air from the plastic tube and this will create a vacuum that allows blood to flow to the penis for erection to occur.


This involves penis implant that are carried out through surgical operations. This treatment is very effective for people who do not get cured of erectile dyfunction by the use of medications.


Erectile dyfunction that are caused by anxiety, depression, stress and relationship problems can be well controlled by seeing a psychologist for advice and talk therapy.

Maintenance of good lifestyles

Maintaining a good and healthy lifestyle is very important in preventing many health conditions including erectile dyfunction. Practicing the following lifestyle can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction:

  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol
  • Develop a healthy diet
  • Engage in more physical activities
  • Quit smoking and avoid the use of tobacco products
  • Maintain a healthy weight gain
  • Always find time to rest very well and avoid stress
  • Resolve sexual issues with your partner and improve communication with him/her

About Adebayo Taiwo

Adebayo Taiwo hails from Africa. He's a Microbiologist , Health Safety and Environment Specialist and a Health Advisor who is concerned about the well-being and healthy lifestyle of people around the globe. The health of my people is my pride.

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