Erectile dysfunction (ED), formerly known as impotence, is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. ED does not only refer to a complete inability to achieve an erect penis. Symptoms can also include struggling to maintain an erection for long enough to complete intercourse or an inability to ejaculate. There are often also emotional symptoms, such as embarrassment, shame, anxiety, and a reduced interest in sexual intercourse. A man is considered to have ED when these symptoms occur regularly.
Inside the penis, there are two long, cylindrical chambers called the corpora cavernosa, which contain a myriad of blood vessels and tissues, as well as one major artery in each chamber. When you become aroused, your brain sends chemical messages to the blood vessels in the penis, causing them to dilate or open, allowing blood to flow into the penis. As the pressure builds, the blood becomes trapped in the corpora cavernosa, keeping the penis erect. If blood flow to the penis is insufficient or if it fails to stay inside the penis, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Most men have occasionally experienced some difficulty with their penis becoming hard or staying firm. However, erectile dysfunction (ED) is only considered a concern if satisfactory sexual performance has been impossible on several occasions for some time.
What are the Causes of Weak Erection?
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. The most common causes of ED in older men are conditions that block blood flow to the penis. In younger men, psychological problems are the most likely reason for ED.
Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
In many cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
- Heart disease
- Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome — a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Certain prescription medications
- Tobacco use
- Peyronie’s disease — development of scar tissue inside the penis
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
- Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
- Low testosterone
- Radiation therapy to the pelvic region
Physical causes account for 90 percent of ED cases, with psychological causes much less common
Medeline Zech Ruiz in her book, I MARRIED A DICK DOCTOR, has dedicated a few chapters to the problems of erectile dysfunction and she says,
“The connection between sexual function and cardiac health has now been well established. Cardiologists and urologists should work as teams in men’s health clinics.”
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
The brain plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. Many things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication, or other concerns
- Fear of intimacy
- Worry over not being able to achieve or maintain an erection
- prolonged emotional distress related to economic, professional, or social issues
- Rejection by your parents or peers
- Childhood sexual abuse
“Impotence robs a man of everything he believes is required to make him a man, even though as a woman, I know differently.
I have learned from the Dick Doctor that there are solutions and technologies available that can save relationships. Erectile dysfunction is highly damaging to both partners and requires the help of professionals to help guide you through the gauntlet of care required to save both your health and your marriage.”
What Can I Do To Keep an Erection During Sex?
Diet and Lifestyle Changes for Better Erections
Before considering medication, it’s important to look at your lifestyle and general health. From the food you eat to your level of physical activity and exercise habits, your lifestyle can have a surprisingly large impact on your ability to get an erection and stay hard when you have sex.
Stress is closely linked to erectile dysfunction, as well as a range of other sexual performance issues. When you’re stressed, your body undergoes changes on a hormonal level, ramping up your production of the hormone cortisol. This affects your ability to get and maintain an erection.
Stop Watching Porn
Believe it or not, your porn-watching habits could have a negative effect on your sexual performance. In recent decades, a new phenomenon has emerged where young, otherwise healthy men find it difficult to perform sexually when they’re with a partner. This is called “porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” where your porn habits start to interfere with the parts of your brain that are associated with reward sensitivity. This can affect your sexual performance and reduce your brain’s response to sexual stimulation.
Erections are all about blood flow. In fact, it takes around eight times the normal amount of blood flow to supply your penis with the blood it needs for an erection. When your heart is strong and healthy, the process of getting and maintaining an erection becomes easier for your body.
Eat (and Drink) Healthy
It plays a role in helping you get an erection faster and maintain an erection (or, if you eat poorly, preventing you from getting hard in the first place). Erectile dysfunction is closely linked to high blood pressure, therefore eating healthy is important. Avoiding unhealthy fats, excess sugar, and large amounts of salt are important as well. If you drink alcohol often, reducing your consumption could help to improve your erections and sex life. If you’re overweight or obese, it’s also important to consider losing weight, as obesity is one of the most significant risk factors in men for erectile dysfunction.
Sleep deprivation can affect your erection quality in several ways. First, it’s closely associated with higher levels of stress, which can affect your libido and sexual performance. Second, it’s also associated with lower testosterone production, which could potentially contribute to ED.
Medications to Help You Get and Stay Hard
Medications may also play an important role in helping men suffering from ED to get erection faster and stay hard during sex. These medications include sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), avanafil (Stendra), and tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis).
There are many other treatment options:
- Medicine inserted into the urethra or injected into the penis to improve blood flow. Very small needles are used and do not cause pain.
- Surgery to place implants in the penis which may be inflatable or semi-rigid.
- A vacuum device is used to pull blood into the penis. A special rubber band is then used to keep the erection during intercourse.
- Testosterone replacement if your testosterone level is low. This comes in skin patches, gel, or injections into the muscle.
What Foods Can Act Like Viagra?
These foods function as an aphrodisiac and replace the need for Viagra:
- Celery:Celery contains arginine, which expands blood vessels in a similar way that Viagra does.
- Watermelon:The citrulline in the watermelon helps produce nitric oxide, which boosts sexual stamina and helps reduce erectile dysfunction.
- Chocolate:Studies have proven that chocolate increases the elasticity of blood vessels, which in turn facilitates the flow of blood.
- Pepper:The stuff in cayenne, jalapenos, habaneros, and other peppers that give them their heat relaxes the arteries — and that helps blood flow to the heart and other organs, including the penis.
- Garlic:Garlic contains allicin, an active compound that increases blood flow, making your body extra sensitive to touch and increases your libido. The improved blood flow also helps stronger erections and greater endurance.
- Nuts:Many varieties, including walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and peanuts contain the essential amino acid L-arginine that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow to the genitals. The fatty acids in nuts increase endorphins, making you feel more relaxed. Walnuts are known to improve the quality of sperm and improve fertility.
- Ginger:It is definitely of great use as an aphrodisiac.
- Bananas:Bananas contain bromelain, which helps the production of testosterone, keeping your sexual drive up and aware.
- Sweet Potatoes:They’re rich in beta-carotene and potassium which can help with men’s erectile dysfunction and aid fertility issues.
- Fenugreek:Fenugreek is a popular herb in alternative medicine that may help enhance libido and improve sexual function.
- Saffron:Its many traditional uses range from reducing stress to acting as an aphrodisiac, especially for people on antidepressants.
- Muesli:White muesli is a proven cure for low sperm count, low libido, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, nightfall, and many other sexual performance-related problems in men.
- Carrots:Carrots have fibrous ingredients that energize the body and lead to a feeling of strong sexual desire.
- Strawberries:The aphrodisiacal reputation of strawberries comes from a high amount of vitamin C and folic acid that act as antioxidants that boost blood flow – to your sexual organs, among other places.
- Apples:Apples are filled with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that stimulate sexual desire.
- Ginseng:Ginseng contains a compound that increases sexual satisfaction and can help prevent or lessen erectile dysfunction.
- Saffron:Saffron is a natural aphrodisiac that can improve your sex drive and also boosts stamina and energy.
- Cinnamon:Cinnamon is used in the treatment of impotence and is proven to be sexually stimulating for men.
- Seeds:Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are a great source of zinc, which boosts testosterone. They are also loaded with antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, and more healthy nutrients.
- Spinach and other greens:Spinach is a rich source of magnesium that is known for helping dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to your genitals, which in turn increases arousal. Leafy greens are high in vitamin A, a hormone-balancer that supports proper endocrine function, and contain iodine, an essential mineral for the proper function of the thyroid and adrenal glands that help regulate your mood.
- Eggs:Boiled eggs contain L-arginine, which can help improve erectile dysfunction.
- Figs:Figs are an ancient aphrodisiac, contains magnesium and an amino acid which have been linked to testosterone production and improved circulation.
- Oysters: These shellfish may boost your testosterone levels, and that can help with sex drive.
- Coffee:Men who drank two or three cups’ worth of caffeine a day were less likely to have erectile dysfunction, one study found. That’s because caffeine helps boost blood flow.
- Fish: Salmon and other fatty fish are great sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost nitric oxide in your body. They’ll lower your blood pressure and your risks for heart attack and blood clots.
Erectile Dysfunction is one of the major problems faced by men today. However, prevention, treatment, and lifestyle changes can aid in erectile dysfunction. Hope this article helped you get to know about erectile dysfunction.
In the book I MARRIED A DICK DOCTOR, Medline takes a personal and non-judgmental look at the problems that give rise to erectile dysfunction and also at the consequences faced by the couple due to this. Read this book to get a clearer picture regarding this sensitive topic.