National Geographic : 1998 Aug
Advertisement Most men will have an isolated erection problem at some time in their lives, but for others it happens more frequently If the inability to respond naturally to your partner has become a recurring problem, you may be suffering from a treatable medical condition called erectile dysfunction (E.D.), also known as impotence. The following questions and answers are designed to give you a brief introduction to the causes of E.D. and the various treatment options available. If you believe you are suffering from E.D., or want to know more about the condition, talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional. ERECTION PROBLEMS: WHAT EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW WHAT IS E.D? Erectile dysfunction is the consistent inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity. That means not just an occasional problem, but one that has been occurring repeatedly for a period of time. It's a widespread condition, shared by approximately 30 million men inthe United States. WHAT CAUSES E.D.? Itwas once believed that E.D. is all inyour head, or just an inevitable result of getting older. Actually, the majority of E.D. cases are associated with physical conditions or events, including some that are age-related. The most common risk factors for E.D. include: - Diabetes, high bloodpressure, hardeningof the arteries, orhigh cholesterol - Injury or illness, such as spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, depression, stroke, or surgeryfor the prostate or colon - Medicationsthat may bring about E.D. as an unwanted side effect - Cigarettesmoking or alcohol/drugabuse - Psychologicalconditions, such as anxiety and stress Ifyou want to know more about E.D., talk to your doctor. CAN ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION BE TREATED? Yes. The good news is that, regardless of the cause, the vast majority of E.D. cases are treatable. Patients have a variety of treatment options from which to choose, including oral medication, hand-held vacuum pumps, self-administered injections, pellet suppositories, and surgical implants. CAN ANYONE USE THESE TREATMENTS? It's important to remember that these treatments are not for everyone, but only for men diagnosed with E.D. You and your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for you. HOW 00 1 KNOW FIF I HAVE E.D,? Ifyou have erection problems, you probably already know it. But before your condition can be treated, you need to get a diagnosis from your doctor. There is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed when discussing E.D. with your doctor. He or she has probably diagnosed and treated E.D. many times but may not have discussed it with you out of respect for your privacy. Your doctor can provide you with understanding, support, and best of all, information. To diagnose E.D., doctors typically ask a few specific questions and give a routine physical exam. This should help your doctor arrive at a diagnosis. Based on this information, you and your doctor will decide on the treatment that is best for you. REMEMBER: E.D. is a common medical condition. It's not an inevitable result of growing older. E.D. is treatable with a variety of methods.