Most men will experience occasional difficulties getting or maintaining an erection. Usually, the problem may go away in a short period of time. In those cases in which difficulties persist, the man may be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED).
If you’ve been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, you might feel ashamed, upset, and alone. However, studies show that ED is fairly common among men. There have been numerous studies over the years, focusing on different age groups, demographics, and other factors. In an oft-cited 1994 study quoted by Healthline, called the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, researchers estimated that around 52% of men experience ED in their lifetimes. While you should discuss ED with your doctor in order to improve your sexual health, the fact that more than half of all men will go through bouts of erectile dysfunction shows that you are not alone.
Causes of ED
The Mayo Clinic has a comprehensive webpage about possible causes of erectile dysfunction. Sometimes, the issue can be caused by emotional distress or psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, or even deeper problems associated with your relationship. For example, if you and your spouse are in the middle of difficult financial times and are having trouble communicating, those factors can affect your ability to get or keep an erection.
There are also common physiological problems that can cause erectile dysfunction. ED can result from:
- Significant heart conditions
- High blood pressure
- Peyronie’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sleep disorders
- Low testosterone levels
Factors That Increase the Risk of ED
Depending on your lifestyle, you can be at an increased risk for ED. For example, alcoholism or substance abuse can cause you to have difficulty keeping an erection. The use of tobacco also has a negative effect on your ability to get erections, as tobacco restricts the blood flow that makes erections possible. Other issues that may lead to an increased risk of ED include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Enduring radiation treatment for cancer
- Prostate surgery
- Certain prescription drugs
The good news is that many of these issues are fixable. You can lower your intake of alcohol and tobacco, as well as any illegal or illicit substances that may be affecting your ability to become erect. By taking on better eating habits, getting a personal trainer, and/or engaging in more forms of exercise, you can lower your weight and reduce the issues that may be leading to your ED. Switching prescriptions may also solve the problem. The best option is to discuss your issue with your doctor. Remember: this is a relatively common problem experienced by more than half of all men. You don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed about your ED, and discussing the matter with a professional can help you restore vitality to your erections.
ED Is on the Rise
Erectile dysfunction is trending upward, meaning that more men are being diagnosed with the issue each year. From a baseline of 152 million men worldwide in 1995, the number is expected to rise to over 320 million by 2025, according to Trend Statistics. No doubt the increase in ED will lead to further research into prevention and cures.