Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction | NIDDK

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

A doctor, such as a urologist, diagnoses erectile dysfunction (ED) with a medical and sexual history, and a mental health and physical exam. You may find it difficult to talk with a health care professional about ED. However, remember that a healthy sex life is part of a healthy life. The more your doctor knows about you, the more ly he or she can help treat your condition.

Medical and sexual history

Taking a medical and sexual history is one of the first things a doctor will do to help diagnose ED. He or she will ask you to provide information, such as

  • how you would rate your confidence that you can get and keep an erection
  • how often your penis is firm enough for intercourse when you have erections from sexual stimulation
  • how often you are able to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse
  • how often you find sexual intercourse satisfying
  • if you have an erection when you wake up in the morning
  • how you would rate your level of sexual desire
  • how often you’re able to climax, or orgasm, and ejaculate
  • any surgeries or treatments that may have damaged your nerves or blood vessels near the penis
  • any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take
  • if you use illegal drugs, drink alcohol, or smoke

This information will help your doctor understand your ED problem. The medical history can reveal diseases and treatments that lead to ED. Reviewing your sexual activity can help your doctor diagnose problems with sexual desire, erection, climax, or ejaculation.

A doctor will take a medical and sexual history to help diagnose the cause of your erectile dysfunction (ED).

Mental health and physical exam

A health care professional may ask you some personal questions and use a questionnaire to help diagnose any psychological or emotional issues that may be leading to ED. The health care professional may also ask your sexual partner questions about your relationship and how it may affect your ED.

He or she also will perform a physical exam to help diagnose the causes of ED. During the physical exam, a health care professional most often checks your

  • penis to find out if it’s sensitive to touch. If the penis lacks sensitivity, a problem in the nervous system may be the cause.
  • penis’s appearance for the source of the problem. For example, Peyronie’s disease causes the penis to bend or curve when erect.
  • body for extra hair or breast enlargement, which can point to hormonal problems.
  • blood pressure.
  • pulse in your wrist and ankles to see if you have a problem with circulation.

Lab tests

Blood tests can uncover possible causes of ED, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney disease, and hormonal problems.

Imaging tests

A technician most often performs a Doppler ultrasound in a doctor’s office or an outpatient center. The ultrasound can detect poor blood flow through your penis. The technician passes a handheld device lightly over your penis to measure blood flow.

Color images on a computer screen show the speed and direction blood is flowing through a blood vessel. A radiologist or urologist interprets the images. During this exam, a health care professional may inject medicine into your penis to create an erection.

Other tests

Nocturnal erection test. During a nocturnal, or nighttime, erection test, you wear a plastic, ring- device around your penis to test whether you have erections during the night while you sleep.

This test usually takes place at home or in a special sleep lab.

A more involved version of this test uses an electronic monitoring device that will record how firm the erections are, the number of erections, and how long they last.

Each night during deep sleep, a man normally has three to five erections. If you have erections during either type of test, it shows that you are physically able to have an erection and that the cause of your ED is more ly a psychological or emotional issue. If you do not have an erection during either test, your ED is more ly due to a physical cause.

Injection test. During an injection test, also called intracavernosal injection, a health care professional will inject a medicine into your penis to cause an erection.

In some cases, a health care professional may insert the medicine into your urethra instead. The health care professional will evaluate how full your penis becomes and how long your erection lasts.

Either test helps the health care professional find the cause for your ED. The tests most often take place in a health care professional’s office.


Erectile Dysfunction Service

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

Our physicians understand patients' anxieties about erectile dysfunction (ED). Our goal is to effectively treat this condition so patients can resume sexual intimacy with their partners.

At your first visit you can expect:

  • A confidential discussion of your condition, normal sexual function and expectations during and after treatment
  • A comprehensive health evaluation
  • Additional blood tests (if needed)
  • An individualized treatment program to help you achieve satisfactory erectile function
  • Referral to the appropriate medical specialist if an underlying illness is diagnosed

About the Program

The mission of the Erectile Dysfunction Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Urology is to deliver care to men experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) so they can resume sexual intimacy with their partners. We provide private, personalized evaluations and effective, clinically proven treatments for this condition.

Many men experience ED as a consequence of aging or some specific underlying medical condition. Once thought to be purely psychological or emotional, ED more often is symptomatic of an underlying physical disease. Additionally, the condition can be caused by many common medications, including those prescribed for high blood pressure.

Common causes of ED include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arteriosclerosis(clogged blood vessels) and high cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Hypertension(high blood pressure)
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • History of abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • History of treatment for prostate cancer

If one of our urologists discovers that a person's ED is caused by an underlying illness, he or she will refer the patient to an appropriate specialist for further evaluation. For example, a patient diagnosed with heart disease may be referred to a cardiologist. All patients can choose to be referred to one of the many accomplished specialists at Mass General.

Safe & Effective Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

Our urologists have led or participated in many clinical research studies to evaluate the most effective treatments for ED.

In many cases, men with ED can regain erectile function and resume sexual activity with a prescribed oral medication When this fails to correct the problem, our urologists will choose another clinically proven treatment, working closely with the patient to find the therapy that produces a positive outcome.

Contrary to popular opinion, therapies such as vacuum pump devices and intra-penile injections are safe, effective and involve little or no discomfort when performed as recommended by your urologist.

If one of these methods is appropriate for you, your urologist will carefully show you how to self-administer the treatment. Your urologist also will answer all questions to ensure you are completely comfortable and confident with the recommended treatment plan.

Recognized Experts in Helping Men with Erectile Dysfunction

Over the past three decades, the urology team at Mass General has successfully cared for thousands of men with ED, from young adults to senior citizens. This depth of experience means every patient sees a physician who is an expert at diagnosing ED and choosing the most effective method of treatment.

Taking the First Step

If you are uncertain or embarrassed about seeking treatment, please rest assured that we treat every patient with the utmost respect and complete confidentiality. We encourage men with ED to take the first step and schedule an evaluation with one of our specialists.


Men with serious illness may not seek erectile dysfunction treatment

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

(Reuters Health) – Men with cancer or other chronic illnesses are less ly to seek treatment for erectile dysfunction, even though sexual health is an important aspect of quality of life, researchers say.

With a better understanding of the reasons why men don’t seek help, doctors could change the way they talk to their patients and help them seek treatment, the authors of a small study conclude in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

“Improving our approach could result in a large proportion of men maintaining a satisfactory sexual life, which is an important part of overall wellbeing,” said lead study author Dr. Dejan Bratus of University Medical Center in Maribor, Slovenia.

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, but only 10 percent of men with erectile issues are typically treated, the study team notes.

“What surprises us the most is the attitude of health professionals toward the sexual problems of their patients as it seems that a large proportion of doctors are unwilling to discuss these problems with their patients,” Bratus told Reuters Health by email.

Over the course of a month, Bratus and a coauthor surveyed 500 men who were visiting their family doctor. The men filled out a questionnaire with just two questions: “Does sexual activity represent an important part of your life at this time of your life?” and “If you ever in your life suffered from erectile dysfunction (impotence), would you want to get it treated?”

In analyzing the men’s responses, the researchers split the patients into three groups the reason for their doctor visit and their overall health status.

In the first group were 176 men with no underlying illnesses, who had visited their doctor for preventive reasons or short-term issues.

They typically talked to their doctor about respiratory infections, backaches, urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal problems. Their average age was 50.

The second group, with “mild underlying disease,” included 244 men who visited their doctor due to existing chronic illnesses but didn’t have serious complications. They typically talked to their doctor about hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety and heart disease. Their average age was 60.

The third group, with “severe chronic or malignant illnesses,” included 66 men who typically had some form of cancer or had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Their average age was 62.

Overall, the research team found that more than 90 percent of the healthy men said sex was an important part of their wellbeing, while about 80 percent of men with mild underlying illness said this and for men with serious illness, it was closer to 70 percent.

Similarly, close to 90 percent of men who were healthy or mildly ill said they would seek treatment for erectile dysfunction, while just 70 percent of the seriously ill men said this.

“Sexual function is important to people but patient-provider communication about sex is often lacking,” said Kathryn Flynn of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Flynn said results similar to the Slovenian study have been found in the U.S., including the fact that many patients with serious illnesses such as cancer don’t discuss sexual problems with their healthcare providers.

“Even though there are psychological and medical treatments available to address erectile dysfunction (and other aspects of sexual dysfunction), patients often aren’t receiving them,” she told Reuters Health by email.

In Slovenia, the study authors are developing better ways for oncologists to talk to patients about sexuality and sexual dysfunction, Bratus said. He is also part of a new 26-country European Sexual Medicine Network created by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology funding organization.

“Our message to men who suffer from erectile dysfunction is that this is just a disease any other,” he said. “There is no need to be ashamed of it, and we strongly advise them to talk about it with their doctors since there are many ways of getting help and improving sexual life.”

SOURCE: International Journal of Impotence Research, online April 11, 2019.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“,”author”:null,”date_published”:”2019-05-02T20:45:00.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:””,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:””,”domain”:””,”excerpt”:”(Reuters Health) – Men with cancer or other chronic illnesses are less ly to seek treatment for erectile dysfunction, even though sexual health is an important aspect of quality of life,…”,”word_count”:671,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}


Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

  • Men are frequently reluctant to discuss their sexual problems, particularly erectile dysfunction or ED, and often need to be specifically asked.
  • You can assist and initiate this process just by telling your doctor directly that erectile dysfunction is a problem for you. Opening a dialogue allows your doctor to begin the investigation or refer you to a consultant.
  • Scheduling enough time with your doctor to conduct a full interview and physical examination is important.
  • After performing a full interview, physical examination, and laboratory testing, your doctor can then discuss your particular situation, the most ly cause, and reasonable treatment options.

Sexual, Medical, and Psychosocial History to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

The first step in the medical management of erectile dysfunction is taking a thorough sexual, medical, and psychosocial history. This is a delicate topic, and your doctor should be sensitive and caring to make you comfortable about sharing these intimate details of your private life.

While conducting a full interview, specific questions these will probably be asked:

  • Your doctor will ask if you have difficulty obtaining an erection, if the erection is suitable for penetration, if the erection can be maintained until the partner has achieved orgasm, if ejaculation occurs, if you have lost interest in sex (libido), and if both partners have sexual satisfaction.
  • You will be asked about current medications you are taking, about any surgery you may have had, and about other disorders (eg, history of trauma, prior prostate surgery, radiation therapy).
  • The doctor will want to know all medications you have taken during the past year, including all vitamins and other dietary supplements.
  • Tell the doctor about your tobacco use, alcohol intake, and caffeine intake, as well as any illicit drug use.
  • Your doctor will be looking for indications of depression. You will be asked about libido (sexual desire), problems and tension in your sexual relationship, insomnia, lethargy, moodiness, nervousness, anxiety, and unusual stress from work or at home.
  • You will be asked about your relationship with your sexual partner. Does your partner know you are seeking help for this problem? If so, does your partner approve? Is this a major issue between you? Is your partner willing to participate with you in the treatment process?

Your doctor will also want your candid answers to questions these:

  • How long has a problem existed? Did a specific event, such as a major surgery or a divorce, occur at the same time?
  • Do you have diminished sexual desire? If so, do you think it is just a reaction to poor sexual performance?
  • How hard or rigid are your erections now? Are you ever able to obtain an erection suitable for penetration even momentarily? Is maintaining the erection a problem?
  • Can you achieve orgasm, climax, and ejaculation? If so, does it feel normal to you? Does the penis become somewhat rigid at climax?
  • Do you still have morning erections?
  • Is penile curvature (Peyronie's disease) a problem?
  • What would be your preferred frequency of intercourse, assuming the erections were working normally? How would your sexual partner answer this same question? What was your sexual frequency before the erections became a problem?
  • Have you already tried any treatments for erectile dysfunction? If so, what were they and how did they work for you? Were there any problems or side effects to their use?
  • Are you interested in trying a particular treatment first? Are you against trying any particular type of therapy? If so, what caused you to make this judgment?
  • To what degree do you wish to proceed in determining the cause of your erectile dysfunction? How important is this information to you?

Physical Examination to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

A physical examination is necessary. During this examination, your doctor will pay particular attention to the genitals as well as the nervous, vascular, and urinary systems. Your blood pressure will be checked because several studies have demonstrated a connection between high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.

The physical examination will confirm the information you gave the doctor in your medical history and may help reveal unsuspected disorders, such as diabetes, vascular disease, penile plaques (scar tissue or firm lumps under the skin of the penis), testicular problems, low male hormone production, injury or disease to the nerves of the penis, and various prostate disorders.

Laboratory Testing to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

Laboratory testing is needed for some men. Tests such as these may be performed:

  • Your hormonal status for testosterone (the male hormone) is evaluated, particularly if one of your symptoms is low sexual desire (low libido).
    • Blood tests for testosterone should ideally be taken early in the morning because that is when levels are usually at their highest.
    • Blood may also be tested for other hormones that can affect sexual function (eg, luteinizing hormone, prolactin).
  • Your blood may be checked for glucose (sugar), cholesterol, thyroid function, triglycerides, and prostate specific antigen (PSA).
  • A urinalysis looking for blood cells, protein, and glucose (sugar) may also be done.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is… See Answer

Imaging Studies to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

An ultrasound examination of your penis and testicles may be performed. The principle of ultrasound is similar to the sonar used on submarines. Sound waves are reflected back when they contact relatively dense structures, such as fibrous tissue or blood vessel walls. These reflected sound waves are then converted into pictures of the internal structures being studied.

In diagnosing the cause of erectile dysfunction, an ultrasound may be done on the lower abdomen, the pelvis, and the testicles, or it may be restricted to just the penis.

  • A duplex ultrasound is a diagnostic technique that uses painless, high frequency sound waves to measure blood flow in structures such as the penis.
  • The procedure itself is painless. It is usually performed before and after injection of a smooth muscle relaxing medication into the penis, which should significantly increase the diameter of the penile arteries.
  • A duplex ultrasound is most useful in evaluating possible penile arterial disorders. Further studies of the venous drainage system as well as arterial imaging are usually recommended if vascular reconstructive surgery is anticipated.

Further Testing to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

Following completion of a full interview, physical examination, and laboratory testing, your doctor should be able to determine the general type of dysfunction and the need for any additional testing. Such tests include penile or pelvic blood flow studies, nocturnal penile tumescence testing, penile biothesiometry (nerve testing), and/or more blood tests.

  • Numerous devices have been developed to determine if erections occur during sleep. One such example is a snap gauge that is fastened around the penis and opens when an erection occurs.
  • One of the most common tests used to evaluate penile function is the direct injection of PGE1 into the penis. PGE1, also called prostaglandin E1 or alprostadil, is a medication that increases blood flow into the penis and normally produces erections.
    • If the penile structure is normal or at least adequate, an erection should develop within several minutes. You and your doctor can judge the quality of the erection.
    • If successful, this test also establishes penile injections as one possible therapy.
  • Nocturnal penile tumescence or NPT testing may be useful in distinguishing between psychological causes and physical causes of erectile dysfunction.
    • This test involves the placement of a band around the penis that you would wear during 2 or 3 successive nights.
    • If an erection occurs, which is expected during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the force and the duration are measured on a graph.
    • Inadequate or no erections during sleep suggest a physical (or organic) problem, while a normal result may indicate a possibility of emotional, psychological, or mental causes.
  • Formal neurological testing is not needed for most men, and specialized nerve conduction studies are only performed in selected cases. However, anyone with a history of nervous system problems, such as loss of sensation in the arms or the legs and those with a history of diabetes, may be asked to undergo further neurological testing.
    • Measuring the sensitivity of the skin of the penis to detect vibrations (called biothesiometry) can be used as a simple office nerve function screening test.
    • This test involves the use of a small vibrating test probe placed on the right and left side of the penile shaft as well as on the head of the penis. The strength of the vibrations is increased until you can feel the probe vibrating.
    • Although this test does not directly measure the erectile nerves, it serves as a reasonable screening for possible sensory loss and is simple to perform.

Diagnostic Testing Results

  • Readers Comments 2
  • Share Your Story

Your doctor will discuss your results with you (including your partner when possible) and summarize any risk factors (eg, smoking, medications) that may be involved. Your doctor will also review with you the various treatment options that can be considered. Together, you and your doctor will develop a strategy to help you and your partner achieve a satisfactory result.

Once significant systemic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, are ruled out, an oral medication, such as Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, may be prescribed. If these agents are successful, further testing is usually not warranted.

Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction Pictures

A number of devices have been developed to determine if an erection occurs during sleep. This snap gauge is fastened around the penis but opens when an erection occurs. Click to view larger image.
This penile tumescence monitor is placed on the penis. It is connected to a monitor that records a continuous graph depicting the force and duration of erections that occur during sleep. The monitor is strapped to the leg. The nocturnal penile tumescence or NPT test is conducted on several nights to obtain an accurate indication of erections that normally occur during sleep. Click to view larger image.
The presence of normal skin sensation adequate to produce an erection is measured with this device. Click to view larger image.


Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology REFERENCE: “Evaluation of male sexual dysfunction”


Don’t Ignore Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

Men: Think of your penis as the canary in the coal mine. It can signal health problems beyond your genitals.

Men who have trouble getting and maintaining erections should see a doctor, says Culley C. Carson III, MD, distinguished professor emeritus of urology at the UNC School of Medicine. Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is sometimes caused by serious cardiovascular issues, among other conditions. It’s very important to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

That’s a good reason to get over the embarrassment and talk to your doctor. Not only has he or she heard it all before, but expressing your concern could save your life.

In the meantime, here’s what you should know about erectile dysfunction.

What is erectile dysfunction and how many men have it?

According to Dr. Carson, ED is defined as the inability to have and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse at least 50 percent of the time.

And men who deal with it should know they’re not alone; ED is very prevalent. Dr. Carson says that 50 percent of men over the age of 40 experience some amount of erectile dysfunction and that the prevalence increases with age, roughly by decade. For example, roughly 80 percent of people in their 80s have some ED.

The majority of these patients have moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. About 10 percent of people with ED have severe erectile dysfunction, meaning that they are not able to attain and maintain an erection firm enough for penetration. In other words, they cannot have sexual intercourse.

This correlates to about 120 million men in the United States having ED, according to Dr. Carson—a pretty high number for something people don’t really talk about much.

But patients talk about it much more than they used to, Dr. Carson says.

“In the days before Viagra, when ED was just called impotence, patients virtually never talked about it,” he says. Today, people feel a bit more comfortable, but still, “many of the patients I see for erectile dysfunction are pushed to see me by their partner.”

Why a doctor’s visit is necessary in the presence of ED

People should “tell their doctors, absolutely” if they are suffering from erectile dysfunction, because ED can be a sign of something worse, including cardiovascular disease, Dr. Carson says.

If Dr. Carson sees a patient in his 30s or 40s that has erectile dysfunction as a new diagnosis, he typically sends him straight to a cardiologist.

According to Dr. Carson, a man with a new diagnosis of erectile dysfunction is at very high risk for a stroke, a heart attack, or other kinds of a cardiac event within three to five years of the time that diagnosis occurs.

“If you think about it, it makes total sense,” Dr. Carson says. That’s because to have an erection, you’ve got to have high blood flow through the very small blood vessels of the penis. So if cholesterol or hypertension is adversely affecting blood flow, it can produce a noticeable effect on the small blood vessels of your penis first.

That’s why “it’s what we consider the canary in the coal mine,” Dr. Carson says.

Lifestyle risk factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction

There may be lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of erectile dysfunction.

  • Smoking. “Smoking is the biggest enemy of erectile function that there is,” Dr. Carson says. Many studies show that quitting smoking can bring back some erectile function.
  • Diet and exercise. Studies have shown that when patients lose weight and exercise, not only do the rest of their vascular systems benefit, but their erections usually improve as well.

What to do if you’re embarrassed to talk about it with your doctor

Many of the patients who visit Dr. Carson for erectile dysfunction give a decoy reason to the front desk staff. They say, “I’m coming for my prostate” or “I’m interested in getting a vasectomy.”

The truth comes out in the exam room, and usually right at the end when the appointment is over. Physicians call it the “doorknob complaint” because it’s the issue patients blurt out when the doctor is almost out the door.

“That’s when they say, ‘Actually, I’m having erection problems: can I get some little blue pills?’” Dr. Carson says. He’s sympathetic to patients who feel embarrassed, but it’s always best to state your concerns upfront, he says.

Know you have options for erectile dysfunction

In the 1970s and ’80s, there were very few options for treating erectile dysfunction.

“You could send somebody to a psychological counselor. There were also some surgical options, but they were not very tolerable to the average patient,” Dr. Carson says.

Today, there are several effective cures for erectile dysfunction. If one treatment doesn’t work, another might; but you have to be willing to talk to your doctor about your options.

  • Pills. Often called the “little blue pills” (they aren’t all blue), these work very well for most patients.
  • Hormonal treatment. Low testosterone levels can hinder the pills from working. Sometimes increasing testosterone makes the pills work.
  • Injection therapy. It’s not as easy as a pill, it but works very well for many patients.
  • Penile implants. For patients who haven’t found success with other treatments, there is the option of penile implants. These devices require a surgical procedure that takes about an hour. The satisfaction rate is well over 90 percent, according to Dr. Carson, and it restores patients’ ability to have erections.

 What to know about penile implants

Penile implants had been the goal of surgeons for many years when the first trial took place in the 1930s, during a procedure in which they took a piece of human rib cartilage and put it in a patient’s penis.

It didn’t work. Find out more about the history of penile implants here.

The modern era of penile implants began in the 1960s, when the space program developed silicone rubber that could be implanted in the human body. These materials are still used in penile implants today.

Inflatable implants are put in the erectile bodies of the penis and are connected to a small fluid-filled reservoir in the abdomen. Using a small pump placed in the scrotum, the man can move fluid into his penis and create an erection.

A penis with an implant has normal sensation and can still ejaculate; the implant doesn’t affect fertility, either. The erection should seem typical to both the patient as well as his partner.

“It’s a very good way to go,” Dr. Carson says. “These devices are reliable, safe, and they last 12 to 15 years.”

Of course, most men with ED don’t need a penile implant. But any man having trouble getting an erection should talk to his doctor.


Why He Might Be Experiencing Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction: visiting your doctor

If your partner has difficulty having or maintaining an erection on a regular basis, he might have erectile dysfunction (ED). ED can affect an individual’s quality of life, stress level, self-confidence and relationship — but it doesn’t have to.

Although it may be difficult to reach out for help, ED may be caused by other medical conditions and can sometimes be the first sign of a more serious underlying problem.

If you’re experiencing ED, it’s important to visit your physician and get an examination.

Causes of ED

Getting an erection is part physical and part psychological, so the causes of ED can stem from either. Depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues can lead to ED, and it can become a vicious cycle, as ED can make stress and anxiety worse.

“It is natural to not feel great about admitting that things are not working they used to,” says Mary K. Samplaski, MD, a urologist and male infertility specialist at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“However, you should get it checked out for several reasons. One, ED may represent a more serious underlying condition; two, ED is more common than you think; and three, ED is usually fixable, and men are much happier when this part of their lives is in working order.

Physically, erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of heart disease. According to an article in the journal Circulation, the most common cause of ED is a blood vessel problem called atherosclerosis — more commonly known as clogged arteries. This affects the blood vessels throughout the entire body, including those that supply blood to the penis to obtain an erection.

Not surprisingly, other conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, also can lead to ED. Diagnosing and treating ED can play a helpful role in maintaining a healthy heart and preventing cardiovascular issues.

ED can also be a sign of diabetes, especially in younger men. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), men with diabetes are two to three times more ly to experience ED than those who don’t have diabetes. This is due to the damage diabetes can cause to nerves and blood vessels.

Other medical causes that can lead to ED include prostate or bladder cancer and subsequent surgery, hormone problems, side effects from certain medications, multiple sclerosis and alcohol and substance abuse. Health-related factors being overweight, obese, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and using illegal drugs may lead to ED, according to the NIDDK.

Treatments for ED

Treatments for ED may be as simple as daily modifications to live a healthier lifestyle. More exercise, weight loss and a balanced diet have been linked to improvements in ED symptoms, as well as the other medical causes associated with it. Quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol also can help.

Prescription medications to treat ED are also available. Additional treatments may include injectables, suppositories, vacuum devices and surgery. Your urologist can help you evaluate which treatment option may be right for you.

Check with your doctor before using any over-the-counter or herbal supplements to make sure they’re safe for you.

by Tina Donvito

Are you experiencing the symptoms of ED? The experts USC Urology at Keck Medicine can help. If you’re in Southern California, request an appointment or call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).