What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.
Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence, and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor — even if you’re embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.
Also, known as ED, erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. But what — exactly — happens? 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.
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. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
PENILE SIZE AND INSECURITY IN MEN
Many rather average or slightly below average sized men suffer from personal and sexual insecurity and low self-esteem because of their belief that manhood is a matter of size, and are further convinced that men with bigger penises are the better lovers. But what is the truth? Are these all myths and misconceptions?
Average penis size statistics
Estimates on average penis size vary. Many people believe that a typical penis is 6 inches (in) long, but this is false and misleading, potentially triggering anxiety in those who worry about having a small penis.
A 2014 analysis of data from 15,521 men discovered the following about penis size:
- The average non-erect penis is 9.16 centimeters (cm), or 3.61 in long.
- The average erect penis is 13.12 cm (5.17 in) long.
- Penises longer than 6 ins when erect are rare, with this length of penis falling in the 90th percentile.
Other research has sought to quantify what counts as a micropenis. A 2014 study defined a micropenis as a penis that is less than 7 cm (about 2.75 in) in length when flaccid and stretched.
Furthermore, research on more than 52,000 heterosexual men and women found that 85 percent of women were satisfied with the size of their partner’s penis. In comparison, only 55 percent of men were satisfied with their penis size.
Kings College London examined over 15,000 men and found that the average man’s length was 5.17 inches erect, 3.61 flaccid.
So why do men overestimate what the average sized penis is? Partially it’s because “People tend to overestimate themselves,” argues David Yeale, a psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (Science Mag). In other words, they might be average and are just bad at eyeballing. Secondly, men could have developed unrealistic expectations on what “average” is because the men featured in pornography tend to measure above average. When that’s the standard you have to compare yourself with, it’s easy for your perception to be skewed.
Okay, so if you’ve ever watched an adult film, you might have seen a lot of semen in some scenes. All the scenes. Most scenes depend on what you’re into.
However, it’s normal to ejaculate only about a teaspoon of semen for every orgasm. In every milliliter of that semen, there’s a lot of sperm. About 200 million of them. If there’s any less than that, it could point to signs of a medical problem.
People continue to keep believing that there is a correlation between penis size and race. Research says that in every country, the average penis length is five inches. 95% of all males in the world fall between 4 and 7 inches, 80% between 5 and 6.
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
The most common physical causes of erectile dysfunction are related to circulation and blood pressure. Heart disease, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can all impact the amount of blood flowing to the penis. Diabetes contributes to ED by damaging your nerves and blood vessels. Taking certain medications is also associated with causing or exacerbating ED.
Obesity and metabolic syndrome can cause changes in blood pressure, body composition, and cholesterol, which may lead to ED. Other conditions that may contribute to erectile dysfunction include Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie’s disease, sleep disorders, smoking, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Taking certain medications can also increase your risk for ED.
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. A number of 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
In many cases, ED is rooted in psychological issues — especially in men under 40 years of age. Because arousal starts in the brain, psychological issues can be a significant contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. Mental health conditions like depression or anxiety can negatively impact your libido, making it more difficult for you to become aroused.
Stress can also be a major factor because it may interfere with your brain sending signals to allow extra blood to flow to the penis. In many cases, psychological issues develop into performance anxiety which, in and of itself, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Though it can sometimes be difficult to pin down the specific cause for your erectile dysfunction, it is always worth the effort. Left untreated, ED can contribute to worsened stress and anxiety as well as low self-esteem, relationship problems, and impotence. Keep reading to learn about treatment options.
What ED Treatment Options Are Available?
In many cases, diagnosing erectile dysfunction requires little more than a physical exam and a review of your symptoms. If your doctor suspects that an underlying health problem may be at play, however, they may request additional testing. Once you’ve determined the cause for your ED, you and your doctor can decide on a form of treatment.
Here are some of the options:
- Vacuum Constriction Devices – An alternative to oral medications, vacuum constriction devices can create an erection using vacuum pressure — once an erection develops, a constriction band is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection.
- Surgery – One of the more invasive treatments for erectile dysfunction, surgical options also exist. Inflatable devices or malleable rods can be surgically implanted on either side of the penis to help achieve an erection.
- Lifestyle Changes – In cases where lifestyle factors such as obesity, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise play into erectile dysfunction, making health changes to your lifestyle may resolve the underlying conditions causing your symptoms.
- Erectile Dysfunction Drugs – Medications like sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), and vardenafil (Levitra®) stimulate blood flow to the penis, enabling you to achieve an erection. These drugs need to be taken prior to engaging in sexual activity.
- Psychotherapy – For psychological causes of erectile dysfunction, psychotherapy can be beneficial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular method because it helps address negative patterns of thought that can contribute to performance anxiety.
When choosing an erectile dysfunction treatment, you should take your time. There are many options available, and while none of them are perfect, some may be a better fit for you than others. Before you start a course of treatment, be sure to tell your doctor about any drugs or supplements you may be taking and keep an eye out for side effects.
The most common natural remedies for ED include those derived from plants and herbs, which some cultures have used for many years. Although there have been very few studies conducted on the safety of these natural remedies, some of them have been found to have side effects that vary from mild to severe.
- L-arginine: Some evidence suggests high doses of L-arginine improve erectile dysfunction by helping blood vessels to open wider, which improves blood flow to the penis. Side effects are generally considered mild but may include cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. L-arginine should not be taken with Viagra, a prescription drug that treats ED.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: Some studies show that propionyl-L-carnitine when combined with Viagra, could improve erectile function better than when taking Viagra alone. Propionyl-L-carnitine is generally considered safe when used under the supervision of a doctor.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): There is some evidence that suggests that DHEA increases libido in women and has a positive effect on men with ED. DHEA appears to be safe at low doses, however, it may cause acne in some cases.
- Ginkgo: Ginkgo may increase blood flow to the penis, which could improve sexual desire and ED. However, this supplement might increase the risk of bleeding. People who are taking blood thinners or who have a bleeding disorder should speak to their doctor before taking ginkgo.
- Ginseng: There are several types of ginseng available. Many of them have been shown to have a positive effect on ED. Some forms of ginseng may have negative side effects including insomnia.
- Yohimbine: The main component of African tree bark, yohimbine is probably one of the most problematic of all natural remedies for ED. Some research suggests that yohimbine can improve a type of sexual dysfunction that is linked with a drug used to treat depression. However, studies have linked yohimbine to a number of side effects, which can include anxiety, increased blood pressure, and a fast, irregular heartbeat. Like all-natural remedies, yohimbine should only be used after advice and under supervision from a doctor.
- Horny goat weed (epimedium): Supposedly, there are substances in the leaves of this herb that improve sexual performance. Epimedium has not been studied in people, and there are some suggestions that might affect heart function.
More on Herbal Remedies.
What is it: Ginseng is a herb that Korean herbal practitioners promote for its ability to treat erectile dysfunction. Another name for red ginseng is Panax ginseng.
How does it work: Researchers aren’t exactly sure how red ginseng reduces erectile dysfunction symptoms.
One theory is that it influences hormones responsible for achieving an erection. Another is that it promotes blood flow by increasing the amount of nitric oxide.
However, human studies usually have a small sample size, which makes it difficult for researchers to draw firm conclusions on the benefits of red ginseng.
Side effects: Taking red ginseng can cause insomnia. However, researchers largely regard it as safe when taken on a short-term basis.
What is it: Yohimbine is a supplement made from the bark of an African tree. Before medications such as Viagra, doctors often recommended yohimbine as a treatment for ED.
How does it work: Yohimbine works by triggering receptors in the body that trigger the release of the hormone’s epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. These can block the effects of other compounds that may otherwise constrict the blood vessels in the penis.
Research: The American Urological Association does not recommend taking yohimbine as a treatment for ED because of its many side effects. However, it has been shown to enhance libido and sexual motivation in animal studies.
Side effects: Taking this supplement is associated with many side effects. Examples include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and anxiety. Men should not take Yohimbe without consulting their doctor first.
Drinking antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. Does pomegranate juice also protect against ED? No proof exists, but the results of a study published in 2007 were promising. The authors of this small-scale pilot study called for additional research, saying that larger-scale studies might prove pomegranate juice’s effectiveness against erectile dysfunction. “I tell my patients to drink it,” says Espinosa. “It could help ED, and even if it doesn’t, it has other health benefits.”
Popular in: Erectile Dysfunction / Premature Ejaculation
Certain activities or lack of activity can have an impact on ED, so before trying medications or natural remedies for ED, a man could consider making some lifestyle changes.
Some lifestyle changes to consider include:
- Exercising regularly: Regular exercise has proven to be effective in improving overall health. For ED, the improved blood pressure, blood flow, and overall health benefits may drastically reduce the risk of a man having or developing ED.
- Eating healthful food: In a similar way to exercise, eating nutritious food may help reduce the risk of heart disease, clogged arteries, and diabetes, which are known risk factors for ED.
- Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake: Both of these activities bring a number of potential health risks, including ED. Reducing or eliminating these activities may help stop ED problems.
- Reducing stress: A man can have issues with sexual performance if he is overly stressed. Stress can come from a variety of circumstances including work, finances, and relationship troubles. Finding ways to cope with these issues can help reduce stress and may improve ED.
- Continuing to engage in sexual activities: Stimulating sexual activities that lead to even partial erections may have a positive impact on ED. The increased blood flow to the penis may help to stimulate and improve function over time.
Alternative therapies and medications
Currently, there are few studies available to suggest the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapies and medications. One study compared database samples of different alternative therapies and medications including acupuncture, ginseng, maca, and yohimbine.
The study indicated that there is some evidence to suggest that ginseng and yohimbine may offer some benefits to ED. However, insufficient evidence exists to prove either acupuncture or maca has a positive impact on ED.
There have been some studies to suggest that a placebo effect that improves ED may work for some men. One study found that men taking an oral placebo pill showed as much improvement in ED symptoms as men who took actual medication to improve ED. Conversely, men who were given therapeutic suggestions to improve ED did not see signs of symptom improvement.
Some of the most common medical treatments for ED are prescription medications that target the problem area and increase blood flow to the penis.
Commonly prescribed medications include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Vardenafil. A doctor is the best person to talk to about possible side effects, treatment, and benefits of the available medications. If a doctor thinks that a man’s medication is causing the ED, they may change the medications
Women and Erectile Dysfunction
It’s not just men who are psychologically affected by erectile dysfunction, either. Women can get emotionally hurt when their partner is unable to get an erection or maintain one because they blame themselves and think they could be doing something differently to help their partner. Sometimes women feel rejected when their partner suffers from erectile dysfunction, assuming that their partner can’t get an erection because they are not adequately aroused.
If you think that men are the only ones that suffer the effects of erectile dysfunction, you are wrong. You’re at about a 50% margin of error. For every man sweating bullets, anxious with sexual dysfunction, there are women who feel somehow culpable.
Women have been the silent sufferers of erectile dysfunction since the first excuses of the caveman telling the cave wife that woolly mammoth hunting was too stressful that day and starting the cave fire took it all out of him.
To make matters worse, its uncomfortable speaking openly about her situation. She fears to make her loved one look bad, she keeps it to herself in solitude. Perhaps she can speak with her partner but that’s also a sensitive conversation. It’s certainly not a conversation any couple looks forward to having.
Women Can Affect Change with Erectile Dysfunction
We want to involve women in every regard because we KNOW our member’s success rate will only stay as high as it is, provided that men communicate with their partners. Women are the greatest tool a man has in addressing erectile dysfunction, yes we said it- the greatest. For the first time, women now have a solution they can implement for the good of their relationship
BMPotent advocates its members seeking treatment in unison with their partners. It simply isn’t practical for a man to go through home treatment twice per week and hide it from his partner. Success and satisfaction rates skyrocket when both partners are involved.
Communication, communication, communication.
Erectile dysfunction is an issue that many men keep to themselves, in secret. Women can be the one to start that conversation. For a man suffering, the last thing he wants to do is talk about it
- Be Educated: Understand erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that no one should have to suffer with. It doesn’t reflect a lack of manhood as much as it doesn’t reflect a deficiency in your feminine prowess
- Focus on the Solution rather than the Problem: Part of the solution will be to identify any underlying medical issues that have caused the problem and be proactive with treatment. Many other things are written on how Erectile dysfunction can predict cardiac disease and how what we eat can lead to ED.
- Permanent Solution: BMPotent members have found a permanent solution to dysfunction. We address the problem at its core, members have learned to treat the issue rather than just the symptoms. Women can advocate this even more so, your partners need to be healthy and free from the risk of medications and complications.
- Assist in the Discipline: BMPotent promotes a lifestyle that advocates general well being and good health. BMPotent members have a system of discipline uniquely designed to not only improve sexual function but keep its members well in every regard.
What Women Need to Know
The more you and your partner know about erectile dysfunction, the better you will be able to manage this sexual issue together. Here are important facts you can share to initiate a discussion and relieve the awkwardness:
- Erectile dysfunction is common. Failure to achieve erection about 20 percent of the time is not abnormal. True erectile dysfunction affects about 1 out of 10 men, and up to half of all men over 50 at some time during their lives.
- Erectile dysfunction is not a normal part of aging. Erectile dysfunction does increase with age, though older men may experience a decrease in the quality of their erections and an increase in the time between erections. They may need more stimulation, but they can still have enjoyable sex lives.
- Erectile dysfunction is treatable. In most cases, erectile dysfunction help is readily available and successful. Treatment options include oral and injectable medications, sex therapy, sexual help devices, and surgery.
- Women also have sexual issues. Up to 70 percent of couples have sexual health issues from time to time. Women may experience loss of desire and arousal problems, and may even experience pain during sex. These sexual issues also need to be addressed.
How a Woman Can Cope With a Partner’s Erectile Dysfunction
If your partner has erectile dysfunction, the most important tip for coping is communication. These steps can help:
- Get educated. Knowing the causes of erectile dysfunction and the treatment options available will lead you to choose something that works best for both of you. Go with your partner to doctor appointments and ask questions. Take an active role in the treatment process.
- Know that it’s not you. Many women, especially older women, may feel that they are part of the problem and take it personally. This is rarely the case. In most instances, there is a physical or emotional reason for erectile dysfunction that does not have to do with you.
- Be positive. The fact that your partner is willing to be open about erectile dysfunction and do something about it is the biggest part of the battle. Don’t be judgmental. Positive feedback is more important than assigning blame.
- Be flexible. Try other ways of having sex and experiencing intimacy. Find sexual techniques that you both enjoy and take the pressure off performance. Don’t assume your partner knows what you want or that you know what he wants.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle together. One of the best ways to cope with erectile dysfunction is to make positive lifestyle changes. Simple measures like quitting smoking, finding ways to reduce stress, and increasing exercise are good for both of you and are great for decreasing erectile dysfunction symptoms.
Erectile dysfunction is a sexual issue that affects both partners in a relationship, and the best way to manage and cope is to work on finding solutions together. Open and honest communication is the foundation for a good sexual relationship.
Erectile dysfunction can end relationships if one or both partners feel inadequate. Understanding and communication are the best ways to deal with this situation.
Erectile dysfunction is not permanent and can be treated. A person may have to accept the fact that they will have to make some lifestyle changes.
Thank you for reading,
Comments are welcome.