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Can you cure ED?

You don't need to live with erectile dysfunction

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Around 10% of adult males suffer from erectile dysfunction and while it can be difficult for the little guy to rise to the occasion every now and then, the common criminal behind this is our all too well-known friend alcohol. You are only human so do not be too hard on yourself if this happens to you. However, if you notice not getting hard is becoming a regular occurrence, do not hesitate to visit your GP and they will be able to help pin down your erectile dysfunction’s underlying cause.

 

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Types of ED 

There are 2 types of erectile dysfunction, primary and secondary ED. 

Primary ED

This is a rare form of ED where a man has never been able to sustain an erection.

Secondary ED

The most common type of ED, where a man was once able to maintain an erection but now is having troubles with impotence. 

 

Symptoms of ED

The symptoms of erectile dysfunction:

  • Unable to get an erection
  • Unable to keep an erection 
  • Reduced libido

The male sexual arousal process is complex and involves not only the brain but hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. If any one of these units is damaged or faulty, it can result in erectile dysfunction. Mental health worries such as stress or performance anxiety can also be a cause of ED or worsen erectile dysfunction. A combination of both physical and psychological issues is usually the culprit for ED. 

Getting an erection

Getting in the mood is not the only thing needed to get an erection. There is a larger, more intricate system involving the heart, blood, nerves, and hormones. It all starts with the brain and the final result is an erect penis. Getting aroused triggers the brain, sending a signal through the nerves to the rest of the body which sends a chemical signal to the blood vessels. Nitric oxide is released from the blood stimulating an enzyme involved in the production of messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate, a chemical messenger. cGMP relaxes the muscles and dilates the arteries in the penis leading to an increased blood flow to the penis. When the blood is pooled in the penis, the veins in the penis then contract. This traps the blood in the penis which causes the erectile tissue to swell and stiffen. All of that just to get a hard-on. As you can see there are a lot of small units at work in this larger erection circuit. In ED, there is a lack of cross-talk between the brain and the nerves meaning there is a lack of sufficient blood flow to the penis. 

Sometimes there is a lack of blood flow to the penis for several reasons such as the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the penis. Medical causes of ED include:

Lifestyle factors affecting blood flow to the penis:

  • Smoking
  • Stress  
  • Drinking 

Antidepressants used for mental health problems, thiazide diuretics treatment in high blood pressure, tranquilisers for trouble sleeping and ulcer medications are the main medicine culprits for ED. While these medications exert their effects on the body to help cure or manage the condition they have an overflow effect on male hormones, nerves or blood circulation. This overflow effect can result in ED or increase the risk of it happening.

A list of the common causes of erectile dysfunction due to medicines:

  • Diuretics 
  • Antihypertensives 
  • Antihistamines 
  • Antidepressants 
  • Parkinson's disease drugs 
  • Antiarrhythmics 
  • Tranquillisers 
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Histamine H2-receptor antagonists 
  • Hormonal medications 
  • Chemotherapy medications 
  • Prostate cancer drugs 
  • Anti-seizure medications

Curable ED

Depending on the underlying cause of ED, yes, in many cases it can be reversed and hence cured. A study conducted by the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that there is a 29% remission rate of ED after 5 years. There are many ways to reverse ED but the main big change that has great effects on ED is lifestyle changes. 

By using relaxation exercises such as meditation and mindfulness can help reserve stress-related ED causes. This also has an effect on the reduction of blood pressure. Regular exercise, an average of 3 thirty-minute sessions a week, can help improve blood flow and hence blood flow to the genitals. If a cause of impotence is excessive weight, losing weight will not only improve cholesterol and testosterone levels but also improve blood pressure. If the cause behind impotence is cardiovascular or diabetic in nature, changing your diet to make it more heart and sugar level friendly is very important. 

Pelvic floor muscle training, another name for kegel exercises, can help impotence. Pelvic floor muscles are involved in urination and ejaculation. By doing regular kegel exercises, you will strengthen your pelvic muscles and thus improve your ED. A 2010 study has found that pelvic floor muscles have a great effect on diabetic men suffering from ED. 

Medications from the list above have impotence listed as one of their side effects. If you are on any of the medications and you believe it is linked to your erectile dysfunction, consult your prescribing doctor as they will reassess your treatment regimen and will adjust it accordingly. There are usually alternative drug therapies available. 

For anatomical causes of ED, surgery might be the only option. Surgery is usually offered when all other options (medicinal like Viagra or non-medicinal like therapy) are explored. The surgery will implant a device into your penis to enable immediate erections. In most cases, surgery is very effective with a small 5 percent failure rate.

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