Men's Health Week: Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
The term erectile dysfunction covers a range of disorders, but usually refers to
the inability to obtain an adequate erection for satisfactory sexual activity.
More common in men older than 65, it can occur at any age. As men age, it is
normal to experience changes in erectile function. Erections may take longer to
develop, may not be as rigid or may require more direct stimulation to be
achieved. An occasional episode of erectile dysfunction happens to most men and
is normal. Men may also notice that orgasms are less intense, the volume of
semen is reduced and recovery time takes longer.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) may not only be a sign of a physical problems but
there is often an emotional problem that must be addressed. Symptoms for ED
include: occasional inability to obtain a full erection, inability to maintain
an erection throughout intercourse and/or complete inability to achieve an
When ED proves to be a pattern or a persistent problem, it can interfere with a
man's self-image as well as his and his partner's sexual life. Stress is a major
player that can knock you down a few notches and ways of managing that stress
must be taken seriously. Making sure you maintain good blood flow is one of the
most important things you should be aware of as you age. Therefore, ED is
categorized into two separate root causes:
Physical causes for ED may include:
1. Nerve damage from longstanding diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
2. Cardiovascular disorders affecting the blood supply to the pelvis
3. Certain prescription medications
4. Operations for cancer of the prostate
5. Fractures that injure the spinal cord
6. Multiple sclerosis
7. Hormonal disorders
8. Alcoholism and other forms of drug abuse
9. The first signs of an underlying medical problem.
Long term diseases of the lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, nerves, arteries or
veins can lead to impotence. So can endocrine system disorders, particularly
diabetes. In some men, erectile dysfunction may be caused by low levels of the
hormone testosterone (male hypogonadism).The accumulation of deposits (plaques)
in the arteries (atherosclerosis) also can prevent adequate blood from entering
the penis. In fact, the penis and the strength of the erection is the male
barometer of his overall health.
Psychological causes for ED may include:
1. Stress, anxiety and fatigue.
2. Impotence is also an occasional side effect of psychological problems such as
3. Negative feelings such as feelings that you express toward your sexual
partner or that are expressed by your sexual partner (resentment, hostility or
lack of interest) also can be a factor in erectile dysfunction.
4. Low self-esteem, a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity about a situation.
The physical and nonphysical causes of erectile dysfunction commonly interact.
For instance, a minor physical problem that slows sexual response may cause
anxiety about attaining an erection. Then the anxiety can worsen your erectile
There are three steps to a normal erection:
1. Arousal is the first step, which men achieve from the senses of sight, touch,
hearing and smell, and from thoughts themselves.
2. The Nervous System Response occurs when the brain communicates the sexual
excitement to the body's nervous system, which activates increased blood flow to
3. The Blood Vessel Response is an actual relaxing action that occurs in the
blood vessels that supply the penis, (not excitement) allowing more blood to
flow into the urethra, which produces the erection. If something affects any of
these factors or the delicate balance among them, erectile dysfunction can
Top 10 Ways to Keep It Up
1. Limit or avoid the use of alcohol and other similar drugs.
2. Stop smoking.
3. Exercise regularly. Do both muscle strengthening and cardio.
4. Reduce stress.
5. Get enough sleep.
6. Deal with anxiety or depression.
7. Loss Weight. Avoid fatty foods and cut back on portion size.
8. Follow the guidelines for good arterial health.
9. Seek counseling for yourself or with your partner.
10. See your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening tests.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS. L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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