Insufficient blood flow to the penis is the primary cause of erectile dysfunction, but it’s not the only one. Others include psychological concerns, traumatic injuries, and relationship issues.
Erection health is important to every man. At one time, it was believed that problems with maintaining erections were all in his mind. But fortunately, science has largely debunked that idea. That’s not to say that the mind doesn’t play an important role — just that often there’s more to it.
Narrowing down the cause of erectile dysfunction takes a bit of thought and perhaps a trip to your doctor. Some issues are quite simple to recognize and address. Others might not be so easy.
But the good news is that science not only identified more possible causes, it has also produced some of the most effective remedies in history.
Erection health issues are by no means a new problem, and men from time immemorial have sought out cures. You’re lucky to live in an age where you don’t need to carry a trinket or swallow a noxious potion in the name of erection health; most likely, a simple little pill, such as Viagra, will do the trick, as it does for men around the world.
Step one in improving erection health is identifying the problem. With that in mind, here are 4 reasons why you might have problems maintaining an erection or achieving one at all.
Reason #1: Performance Anxiety
The loss of ability to achieve and maintain an erection can weigh heavily on your mind. So much so that one occurrence can make you wonder if it will happen again, which puts undue pressure on the next sexual experience. This makes it more difficult than before to maintain an erection.
If one incident triggers another, there could be a snowball effect. Each time sex is initiated, or even suggested, you may shy away for fear of not performing the way you want to or are accustomed to. And each time, the psychological pressure becomes greater.
It’s easy enough for someone else to say that you shouldn’t let one negative experience turn into a pattern. It’s something else entirely to prevent that very thing from happening.
Communicating with your partner can help. Understanding that erection difficulties happen to most men at one time or another can also help. But the reassurance of a supportive partner can work wonders for alleviating stress and performance anxiety.
Reason #2: Relationship Issues
On the other side of that situation is relationship issues. If you don’t have the support of your partner, that’s a perfect climate for erection difficulties. It could also be the very cause of them.
While an unhealthy or unhappy relationship isn’t necessarily the physical cause of the loss of ability to maintain an erection, it can play an important role.
For an erection to occur, there first needs to be stimulation to the mind or any of the senses. Stimulation is the trigger, and it causes a series of events that ultimately lead to an erection.
When the brain processes the stimulation, it sends a signal out into the spine. From there, the signal travels down until it reaches a special set of nerves that supply the penis. This is a complex process, and it all begins with stimulation, which might not happen if you are in a relationship that isn’t supportive or has other problems.
Reason #3: Substance Abuse
A more direct cause of erection difficulties is substance abuse. This could mean any number of things. If you add a chemical or substance to your body that doesn’t belong there, and it holds no benefit for you, the result could be failing to maintain an erection.
Tobacco use is one possible cause. Tobacco use can create numerous issues, aside from the obvious harm to your lungs. Cardiovascular disease is linked to tobacco use, and it is also linked to erection difficulties. Blood supplies the penis and is responsible for creating an erection, so poor cardiovascular health can cause the opposite to happen.
Illicit drugs can cause numerous health conditions and erection issues. And otherwise safe and effective prescription medications can also have a negative effect on erection health.
Medications that help regulate high blood pressure, certain antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and some antihistamines are all linked to difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection, according to WebMD.
Also on the list is alcohol. This one falls into the “maybe” category, because it’s not bad for everyone. One or two drinks are usually fine. They can help relax you, and can even enhance the mood. But more than a couple of drinks can have the opposite effect, at least in some men.
Reason #4: Health Conditions
The primary cause of erection health issues is an underlying medical condition. This could be any number of things from an illness to an injury, and some issues work in concert with others to worsen the problem.
Any injury to the spine, particularly the lower spine where nerves supply the penis, has the potential for disrupting normal erectile function. Injury to the penis, or the nerves or blood vessels that supply the penis, can also have a direct effect. Even riding a bicycle for long periods of time, especially on an uncomfortable bike seat, can damage nerves. Bike riding is good for your health; just take it a bit easier if you normally put a lot of pressure on those nerves and vessels with long rides.
High cholesterol is another problem. You’re probably aware of the way deposits in blood vessels can restrict the healthy flow of blood throughout the body. The blood vessels in and around the penis are not immune to these deposits, and the result can be dramatic. You need plenty of blood to flow freely for an erection to happen; with fatty deposits in the blood vessels, you might not have enough blood flowing to where you need it.
Diabetes may also damage blood vessels and nerves. This is a common concern for diabetics, but you might not realize that the same damage that can occur in your feet and other parts of the body may also happen with nerves and blood vessels in the penis.
Although a surgery isn’t considered a health condition, certain surgeries can damage the delicate erection process. If you’ve had prostate or spinal surgery, the nerves may have suffered damage. Surgery can also help alleviate erection difficulties for some men, says the Urology Care Foundation. This is an extreme remedy that’s not right for everyone but can help in cases where simpler measures don’t work.
Healthy erections are part of a normal, healthy life. Experiencing problems with maintaining an erection may be a signal that something else is wrong, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get relief while an underlying problem is being addressed.
Prescription medications such as Viagra, Cialis, and others in the category known as PDE5 inhibitors are proven to be safe and effective. Many men see dramatic improvements in erectile function within one or two doses. You should know that men who take nitrates for chest pain should not take any PDE5 inhibitor. There may be other contraindications, and your health care provider can advise you about them.
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