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medical information





medical information


erection problems

An erection requires the interaction of your brain, nerves, hormones, and blood vessels. Anything that interferes with the normal process can lead to a problem.

common causes of erection problems include:

  • Diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or thyroid conditions, poor blood flow, depression, or neurologic disorders (such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease)

  • Medications such as blood pressure medications (especially beta-blockers), heart medications (such as digoxin), some peptic ulcer medications, sleeping pills, and antidepressants

  • Nerve damage from prostate surgery

  • Nicotine, alcohol, or cocaine use

  • Poor communication with your partner

  • Repeated feelings of doubt and failure or negative communication that reinforce the erection problems

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Stress, fear, anxiety, or anger

  • Unrealistic sexual expectations, which make sex a task rather than a pleasure

Erection problems tend to become more common as you age, but it can affect men at any age and at any time in their lives. Physical causes are more common in older men, while psychological causes are more common in younger men.

Low levels of testosterone rarely lead to erection problems, but may reduce a man's sex drive.


home care

For many men, lifestyle changes can help:

  • Cut down on smoking, alcohol, and illegal drugs.

  • Get plenty of rest and take time to relax.

  • Exercise and eat a healthy diet to maintain good circulation.

  • Use safe sex practices, which reduces fear of HIV and STDs.

  • Talk openly to your partner about sex and your relationship. If you are unable to do this, counseling can help.

Couples who cannot talk to each other are likely to have problems with sexual intimacy. Men who have trouble communicating their feelings may find it difficult to share with their partner any anxieties about their sexual performance. In these circumstances, counselling can be very helpful for both you and your partner.


when to contact a medical professional

Call your doctor if:

  • The problem does not go away with self-care measures -- effective treatments are available

  • The problem begins after an injury or prostate surgery

  • You have other symptoms like low back pain, abdominal pain, or change in urination

If erection problems seem to be caused by a medication you are taking for an unrelated condition, consult your doctor. You may benefit from reducing the dose of the drug or changing to another drug that has the same result but not the same side effects. DO NOT change or stop taking any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Talk to your health care provider if your erection problems are related to fear of recurring heart problems. Sexual intercourse is usually safe in these circumstances.

Call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room if medication for erection problems give you an unwanted erection that lasts more than 4 hours. Permanent impotence or other lasting damage to your penis may result from this condition.

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