Erectile dysfunction, typically shortened to ED and also known as impotence, is something many men struggle to talk about. It’s also something many men struggle with, as this problem affects 1 in 5 over the age of 40.
While knowing you’re not alone can be of some comfort, ED still has a huge effect on self-esteem, mental health and relationships. The good news is that there are treatments available, and GPs like Dr Ed Skinner at Yarra Medical specialise in this area and can advise you on the most appropriate course of action.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Because ED is also known as impotence, many people believe it refers to the inability to get an erection. But it can also refer to the inability to maintain an erection for a certain period of time.
There are several reasons why somebody might suffer from ED. Usually, these factors lead to restricted blood flow to the penis or damaged nerves in the area. These factors usually fall under the categories of physical, psychological and lifestyle.
- Heart disease (reduces blood flow to the penis)
- Diabetes (causes small vessel disease or nerve damage to the penis)
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalances
- Performance anxiety
- Relationship issues
- Side-effects of some medication
- A lack of exercise
A combination of the above factors is usually behind most men’s ED. Some of the mentioned factors can also be a result of erectile dysfunction (as opposed to a cause), particularly those under the psychological category.
How do we diagnose erectile dysfunction?
Diagnosis starts with a conversation with your GP about your lifestyle and medical history. Given the causes behind ED, it’s important that you’re open and honest about what drugs you take (if any), whether you smoke and drink and, if you do, how much. It’s also important that you mention any recent stressors in your life. All of this information forms the basis of an accurate diagnosis.
Contrary to popular belief, a physical examination isn’t always required. If you’ve had a recent injury to the area of have noticed something unusual, then your GP will want to examine that. An ultrasound may also be of use in particular circumstances; this non-invasive, painless device gives a detailed picture of what’s going on down there.
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
The right treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the underlying cause. It may simply be a conversation about leading a healthier life (drinking less, reducing or stopping smoking, steering clear of recreational drugs). If the cause is restricted blood flow to the penis, then certain medications may be prescribed If it’s thought that surgery is required, then your GP will refer you to a urologist, though these cases aren’t common.
Counselling is also a treatment option for those whom it will benefit.
It all starts with a consultation
It can be hard to talk about, but those who do invariably feel a huge sense of relief. Dr Ed Skinner at Yarra Medical specialises in erectile dysfunction and can guide you through the diagnostic process and help find you the most appropriate treatment.
Yarra Medical has clinics in Richmond and Abbotsford. There is convenient parking at both locations and tram stops right out front. We’re open 7 days, and you can book online with Dr Ed Skinner or any of our GPs.