What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Although erectile dysfunction, or ED, can develop at any age, this condition becomes more prevalent after age 40. By this age, 40% of men are affected by mild to complete ED with that number increasing by 10% per decade of life. As this condition develops, men may find themselves asking, “What is ED?”.

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Erectile dysfunction often occurs as the body loses its ability to adequately pump blood through the arteries and into the erectile tissues. Prior to the development of ED, men may be encouraged to employ preventive tactics, such as exercising daily, reducing stress, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use, to help promote the health of the cardiovascular system.

Despite these preventive tactics, and with aging increasing the onset of the associated causative conditions, up to 30 million men in the United States alone suffer from the effects of erectile dysfunction at any given time.

Symptoms of ED

The occasional inability to achieve and maintain an erection is completely normal and happens to all men, especially after age 40. As the severity and frequency of the problem worsens, however, erectile dysfunction may be to blame. With chronic erectile dysfunction, erections may be too soft for sexual intercourse or simply lose pressure before orgasm. Stress and anxiety frequently develop as ED symptoms progressively worsen.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Although the cause of ED often carries a mental component, up to 90% of chronic erectile dysfunction relates back to a physical cause. Medical conditions that affect the health of the cardiovascular system contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction most often.

As a result, the sudden development of ED can act as a warning sign for serious health conditions, including:

  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease

As these health conditions progress, healthy blood flow throughout the body decreases, which leaves the erectile tissues without the pressure required to maintain an erection.

The development of scar tissue in the penis, a condition called Peyronie’s disease, can also impede blood flow to the erectile tissue. This condition arises after trauma to the penis causes scar tissue to block the chambers that normally engorge with blood during an erection.

Traumatic injuries to the spinal cord or pelvic nerves have the potential to trigger erectile dysfunction by blocking signals carried through the pudendal nerve canal. Surgical treatment for prostate cancer, and other conditions affecting the lower back or pelvic area, carries a risk of damage to this branch of nerves. Without the proper signals from the rectal, perineal and dorsal nerves, the erectile tissues do not properly engorge with blood nor retain enough pressure to maintain an erection.

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

Only about 30% of men with erectile dysfunction seek medical assistance for their condition. In addition to leaving serious health problems undetected, the absence of treatment for ED can cause psychological health problems to arise. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem often develop as the symptoms of erectile dysfunction takes a toll on mental health.

Acquiring treatment for erectile dysfunction can prevent or reverse these psychological issues and improve quality of life as a whole. Common ED treatment options include:

  • Penis Pumps
  • Oral Medications
  • Penile Injections
  • Urethral Suppositories
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Penile Implants
  • Surgical Vessel Correction

Treatments that involve medication or surgery carry a moderate to high risk of side effects due to their relatively invasive nature. Penile vacuum pumps, on the other hand, draw blood into the erectile tissues on demand without the potential for serious side effects. Patients may or may not benefit from attending psychological counseling sessions in addition to the selected physical treatment option.

Patients who suffer from the symptoms of ED are encouraged to visit their doctor to acquire a diagnosis, rule out serious medical conditions and discuss the various treatment options.

Vacuum therapy devices are effective for over 90% of men, and is the only ED Treatment approved by the FDA, routinely prescribed by physicians, and available for purchase without medical intervention or the prescription of a physician. See our vacuum therapy systems page for more information.