Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a potentially embarrassing and troublesome condition that affects many men worldwide. The condition is characterised by a difficulty or inability to get or maintain an erection that’s firm enough or last long enough to have sexual intercourse. Many men feel that they are alone in having this problem. The reality however, is that up to 94 million men globally are affected by this condition.

There are several causes for ED but are characterised as either psychogenic or physical. A common cause of psychogenic ED is performance anxiety, excessive alcohol consumption or depression. Physical causes include vasogenic (related to the blood system), neurogenic (related to the nervous system) and drug or medication related. Any condition which is bad for your heart will have a similar effect on a man’s erections. Common conditions associated with ED include diabetes, smoking and cardiovascular or heart disease. In essence any condition which causes hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis will increase the likelihood of developing ED. Similarly, damage to nerves which supply the penis can result in ED. Common conditions include back surgery or spinal cord injuries as well as strokes or cerebrovascular disease. In addition any surgery which potentially disrupts or interferes with the blood or nerve supply to the penis can result in ED. This includes radical prostatectomy or TURP.

The first reassuring aspect to remember regarding ED treatments is that the success rate is very high when the treatment solution is tailored to an individual patient. Simple lifestyle modifications should be commenced in conjunction with any specific treatment recommendations. This should include avoidance of tobacco products, weight reduction where appropriate and regular exercise.