Erectile dysfunction is defined as a constant or recurrent inability to acquire or maintain an erection that is rigid and long enough for satisfactory sexual activity.
It is a pathology that generally occurs in patients who are in the middle of their life, over 40 or 50 years old. Clearly, erectile dysfunction increases with age.
Although it can also occur in young men, the causes are usually of psychogenic origins, such as stress or other external factors that have nothing to do with the body itself.
Among the most important causes and risk factors of erectile dysfunction are some diseases and conditions such as:
- Arterial hypertension
- Cholesterol alterations
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Hormonal alterations that can cause low testosterone
- Vascular accidents
- Spinal cord injuries due to heart attacks or trauma
- Low levels of vitamin D
In turn, some treatments for prostate cancer, such as surgery or radiotherapy, could have erectile dysfunction as a side effect.
Other factors that increase the risk of suffering from this pathology are unhealthy habits, such as the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs such as marijuana or cocaine.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction
The andrologist at Clínica Alemana is emphatic in acknowledging that the treatments for erectile dysfunction are very varied, so they must be defined on a case-by-case basis. You always try to get the patient to respond to the least invasive, most practical, and comfortable treatment for him.
It is a treatment that is quite standardized and that basically has two parts: one is to try to correct the risk factors, to promote healthy lifestyle habits, from the point of view of sports and healthy eating, and if the patient has an underlying disease such as hypertension or diabetes, that this is managed in a good way, and the patient remains stable in his baseline condition and, after that, the treatment and management of erectile dysfunction as such.
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Types of treatments
In the first stage, the therapy is based on the use of oral medications that allow a greater flow of blood to the penis and, therefore, strengthen the production of an erection and its maintenance.
The second level of treatment, when oral medications are not effective, is injectable treatments into the penis to generate a sustained erection or vacuum pumps. The penis is inserted into a cylinder to generate a vacuum that causes a fill of blood vessels of the penis achieving an erection. This erection is maintained with a rubber ring that compresses the base of the penis. Once the sexual activity is over, the ring is removed, and the erection is lost.
On a third level is the installation of a penile prosthesis, they are artifacts specially designed to try to simulate an erection as similar as possible to the physiological one. It is an intervention requiring surgery usually used as a last-line treatment.
In addition, there are newer erectile dysfunction treatments that are still seeking their place in this scheme. These low-intensity shock waves are applied to the penis with a special machine. They have been found to stimulate new blood vessels in the penis and new nerve structures, therefore it would be a good treatment option.