What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition in which you are unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. ED can be a short-term or long-term problem. Half of the men over age 40 have some level of ED. You have ED when you:
- Can get an erection sometimes, but not every time you want to have sex
- Can get an erection, but it does not last long enough for fulfilling or satisfactory sex
- Are unable to get an erection at any time
What causes ED?
- Increasing age
With the advancement of age, structural changes occur in the muscles and tissues contained within the penis, and this may contribute to the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
- High blood pressure (or hypertension)
High blood pressure can decrease the amount of nitric oxide released from the nerves around the arteries and it can cause clogging of the arteries inside the penis with plaques (atherosclerosis). This interferes with the normal functioning of the arteries required during erection.
- Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes is known to affect the development of erectile dysfunction in a variety of ways. Diabetes damages the nerves and muscles of the penis, and it can cause hardening of the arteries, decreasing blood flow into the penis. Diabetics develop erectile dysfunction 10-15 years sooner than healthy men.
- High cholesterol has been shown to have a negative effect on erectile function.
Smoking decreases blood flood to tissue. Also, nicotine may increase hardening of the arteries. Cigarette smoke also contains many known toxins.
- Substance Abuse
Drug abuse can lead to erectile dysfunction. Alcohol abuse can damage nerves to the penis and cause low testosterone.
A large number of medicines can affect erectile function. Ask your doctor if any of the medications you are taking may be affecting your sexual health.
- Low testosterone
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. It is responsible for maintaining your sex drive (or libido). It’s also necessary for keeping nitric oxide levels high inside the penis. Nitric oxide helps with blood flow and nerve function.
- Psychological factors
Anxiety, depression, increased stress levels, performance anxiety, feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder all can affect sexual health.
How is ED treated?
The first step is to identify if you have any of the above risk factors, and then take steps to address those.
The next step would be to consider the P-Shot®.
The P-Shot® is a painless treatment that helps improve blood flow and repair nerve damage. PRP (platelet-rich plasma), made from your own blood, is injected into the penis (after the penis is completely numbed up!). The PR releases growth factors and healing proteins that can help repair damage.
The New England Stem Cell Institute’s Dr. Tortland is a certified provider of the P-Shot®. But the P-Shot won’t be effective until the above causes are first addressed.