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What Causes Erectile Dysfunction and What Can You Do About It?

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

Millions of men of all ages have experienced erectile dysfunction (ED) at some time in their lives. Contrary to popular belief, erectile dysfunction can affect men of any age and can be caused by many factors besides aging.

If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and wondering what you can do to restore your ability to have a satisfying sex life, your first step is to find out whether an underlying medical condition could be causing your ED.

The Personalabs Erectile Dysfunction Profile Test can provide you with important information about key biomarker levels that could be contributing factors to your ED. Imbalances in your blood sugar levels, testosterone levels, liver health, electrolyte and acid/base balance, and lipids could all be factors that are impacting your ability to get and maintain an erection. The more you know and understand what could be causing your ED, the greater your chances of treating it successfully.

What Causes ED?

Defined as “the inability to get and maintain an erection that is firm enough to have satisfying sex,” erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of a serious illness like diabetes or heart disease. Health conditions that can cause ED include:

  • Stress or performance anxiety. Stress and performance anxiety can impair your brain’s ability to send messages to your body to send extra blood to your penis, which is necessary in order to get and maintain an erection.
  • Nerve damage. Both the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system play important roles in erection, orgasm and ejaculation. Nerve damage to either nervous system can cause ED.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis): A buildup of plaques in your body’s arteries, known as atherosclerosis, can reduce blood flow in the penis and make it difficult to get and maintain an erection.
  • Heart conditions: Heart disease and high blood pressure can constrict blood vessels and prevent blood from flowing freely to the penis – and erections cannot occur without free blood flow to the penis.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels that are needed to get and maintain an erection. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have some degree of neuropathy (nerve damage). Diabetic men are almost four times more likely to develop ED than non-diabetic men. And they tend to develop ED ten to fifteen years earlier, too.
  • High Blood Sugar: High blood sugar can interfere with the transmission of signals between the brain and the penis. It can also damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the penis and damage nerves that send signals needed to achieve and maintain an erection.
  • Obesity: Studies have shown that being overweight can contribute to ED in men ages 20 to 45, even if they don’t drink or smoke. Men who are obese also have lower testosterone levels.
  • Low Testosterone Levels: Testosterone plays a role in erections, although its role is not fully understood. Some men with low testosterone levels are still able to get healthy erections. Nevertheless, low testosterone levels are can contribute to chronic conditions that play a role in erectile dysfunction, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
  • Certain medications: The following medications are known to cause erectile dysfunction in some men:
    • Tamsulosin (Flomax)
    • Carvedilol (Coreg) and metoprolol (Lopressor)
    • Some chemotherapy medications
    • Alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and codeine (found in various brand name drugs)
    • Cocaine or amphetamines
    • Furosemide (Lasix) and spironolactone (Aldactone)
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (Prozac, Paxil)
    • Synthetic hormones, such as leuprolide (Eligard)
    • Prostate Surgery
  • Substance Abuse: Heavy use of alcohol, smoking, or drugs can impact a man’s ability to get and maintain an erection. Studies show that substance abuse in men can lead to erectile dysfunction, regardless of their age. A 2006 study in The British Medical Journal reported ED in one in 10 men between the ages of 16 and 59 who smoked.
  • Peyronie’s disease: Peyronie’s disease is a condition characterized by fibrous scar tissue that develops inside the penis. The scar tissue inside the penis causes curved, painful erections that can prevent you from having sex or can make it difficult to get or maintain an erection. Peyronie’s disease can also cause stress and anxiety, which also contribute to ED.

How is ED Treated?

The first step in ED treatment is to ask your physician to recommend men appropriate tests and review any health issues which might be causing or contributing to your ED.

If you are currently taking medications, let your physician know which medications you are taking so he or she can advise you as to whether they could be making your ED symptoms worse. A change to your medications could alleviate your ED symptoms.

Erectile dysfunction oral medications such as Viagra, Levitra, Staxyn, Cialis and Stendra can alleviate ED in some men — but are not safe for all men. You should confer with your doctor before taking any of these medications to ensure that they are safe for you to take.

Men who take medications for chest pains and angina, have either very low blood pressure (hypotension) or high blood pressure (hypertension), or have a kidney disease are advised not to take these ED medications.

Are There Any Natural Remedies for ED?

If you would prefer to try a natural remedy for ED, here are some natural options that can improve ED symptoms:

  1. Red Ginseng. Often called the “herbal Viagra,” this herb can improve blood flow to the penis, and can be effective for men with high lipids in their blood.
  2. DHEA is a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands that can be converted to testosterone in men’s bodies. This dietary supplement is made from wild yam and soy. Studies indicate some men with ED have low levels of DHEA.
  3. Acupuncture has successfully treated ED for some men. If the work is done by a licensed acupuncturist, the risks of using acupuncture are low.
  4. Testosterone replacement. In some men, erectile dysfunction can be caused by low levels of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy can be accomplished through an injection, patch, gel, or oral medication.

The Personalabs ED Blood Test

ED can be an embarrassing condition for men. But it’s important to keep in mind that millions of men throughout the United States have also experienced ED. In fact, it is estimated that up to 30 million men in the United States have been affected by ED at some point in their lives. ED can be an important warning sign of health problems that need your attention, from heart disease to high cholesterol.

The Personalabs Erectile Dysfunction Profile Test can provide you with information that will be helpful in determining the possible root causes for your ED and which ED treatments are appropriate for you. It is a package of 5 different tests, including:

  • Liver Function Profile
  • Hemoglobin A1c with Estimated Average Glucose
  • Lipid Panel with LDL/HDL Ratio
  • CBC with Differential/Platelet Count
  • Testosterone

Once you obtain your ED blood test results, you can schedule a confidential follow-up consultation with a Personalabs partner physician to review your ED test results and obtain recommendations for further testing and/or ED treatments that are appropriate for you.

Call Personalabs today at (888) 438-5227 for more information about our ED blood tests and confidential consultations with a Personalabs partner physician.

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