Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection in at least 75%-100% of the time during desired sexual activity. In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for ED these symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months and must also be causing significant distress. As men age, ED becomes more common. ED can negatively effect a man’s self-esteem and confidence which may cause an avoidance of sex, and relationship difficulties. If you are experiencing ED make sure to consider all of the factors that could be contributing to this problem:
- Health Problems Causing Restricted Blood Flow: Doctors now know that one of the earliest signs of cardiovascular issues in men is erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction make sure to see your primary care physician to determine the physical factors of your ED. Being overweight, drug and alcohol abuse, and smoking increase your chances of developing ED due to causing reduced blood flow. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, clogged blood vessels, liver problems, injuries to the pelvis, back or spine, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis can also cause ED.
- Medication Side Effects: Certain medications like thiazides, beta-blockers, anti-androgens, and SSRIs may cause or contribute to ED. Make sure to check with your primary care physician about your current medications and their possible side effects.
- Relationship Distress: If you and your partner are fighting more frequently or more intensely, or are not feeling as connected, you may want to consider whether your ED is related. If you are still able to get an erection on your own, or if you wake up with morning erections, this is an indicator that physically you should be able to get an erection. So if you then find yourself unable to get or maintain an erection with your partner, make sure to consider how the current relationship dynamics could be impacting your desire and ability to get an erection. Couples counseling may be useful in helping you and your partner resolve these issues and improve your sexual connection.
- Anxiety or Depression: Anxiety and depression can also cause ED. If you have been going through a particularly stressful time, your desire and ability to get or maintain an erection may be impacted.
Therapy can be useful in helping you to overcome ED even if medical factors are a major contributor. If you find yourself believing relationship distress or anxiety and depression are a major cause of your ED consider seeking therapy to help resolve these issues.