Sunday, 1 April 2007

Erectile Dysfunction: Highly Linked to Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus when not well monitored has the potential of getting quickly complicated for the sufferer. A number of such complications can be seen in the eyes as cataract formation, as nerve tissue problem loss of sensation (neuropathy) and blood vessels related problem (vasculopathy) among others.

However, among all the known complications of diabetes, the one that could be most depressing and psychologically depressing is when it started to take it’s low on the erectable penile organ in males, manifesting as erectile dysfunction.

‘Erectile Dysfunction’ (popularly coded as ED) has now come to replace the phrase ‘Male Impotence’ in medical science due to a better understanding of the subject over the years. The change of nomenclature from ‘Impotence’ to ‘erectile dysfunction’ becomes necessary, since we now know that most affected men can soon conveniently become ‘Potent’ again sexually in the face of the many treatment options that are now available to treat this potentially depressing condition.

Technically speaking, the World Health Organization defined erectile dysfunction (ED) as “the consistent or recurrent inability of a man to attain and/or maintain a penile erection sufficient for sexual performance”.

An obvious fact, however, is that Erectile dysfunction is quite common but it is also largely treatable. Although, this fact is not open to many, who secretly nurse their problem and find it difficult to share this openly with their love ones, and has also developed a great inertia to even open up to their doctors. This development will further complicate the problem, which seldom lead to depression and sometimes to the extreme, leading to cases of suicide and attempted suicide.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Before the last 20 years or so, the prevailing view about ED was that it was almost always a psychological problem, and needed to be treated through sex therapy or marital counseling. Things have change a great deal in the past decade. With the development of new medical treatments for ED, and with better understanding of some of the medical causes of ED, the focus has shifted to the medical office.

Today, experts estimate the about 85% ED has an underlying medical cause. That doesn’t mean that the couple’s relationship is unimportant in their sex life. It just means that there are effective treatments available for the medical problems that may contribute to ED.

Some experts believe that up to 80% of all ED cases may be due to physical (organic) conditions, with psychological factors accounting for the remaining 20%. In many cases, however, both factors are involved. Below are some of the risk factors or causes of ED.

Diabetes As A Major Culprit

A better understanding of the management of erectile dysfunction flows from the fact that we now have more insight into the events that normally take place in men in the course of having an erection.

The simple anatomy and physiology is that for a man to have an erection, he must have an intact penis, which is made up of spongy tubes with potential to get filled up with blood when stimulated sexually this then lead to the turgidity of erection.

Meanwhile, this event is mainly controlled by the nervous system including the brain. The implication of this is that any disease condition that has the potential of affecting the blood vessels and the nervous tissue is invariably likely to affect the erectile process.

A major common culprit here is Diabetes mellitus, a disease condition that leads to excess sugar (in form of glucose) in the blood, which is due to inadequate or ineffectual insulin the chemical produce in the pancreas blood sugar.

It is known that the persistence of excess sugar in the blood soon damage nerve tissues and blood vessel, thus manifesting as the major complications of diabetes mellitus. And these two events eventually affect the erectile process in most men that have diabetes.

Apart from diabetes, other underlying medical problems that cause erectile dysfunction include hypertension, heart disease and prostate surgery ED also occurs frequently in men who also have clinical depression or are taking antidepressant medication.

Lifestyle factors can also be important, as smoking, alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to the problem. Men who exercised regularly are less likely to develop Erectile Dysfunction.

Physical (Organic) Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction

For emphasis, the following entities are further outlined as potential causes of erectile dysfunction in the male.

  1. Vascular Disease: this includes arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease or stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol all affect blood flowing in and out of the penis. Vascular disease is the most common physical cause of ED.
  2. Diabetes: This chronic condition can cause nerve damage (neuropathy) and damage to the blood vessels that supply the penis. As an emphasis, two out of three man with diabetes can develop ED.
  3. Nerve Diseases: Neurological conditions include spinal cord injury, multiple scleroses and nerve degeneration due to diabetes or alcoholism.
  4. Hormonal Problems: Low levels of the male hormone testosterone can result in ED. This must, however be approached cautiously with an expert guiding the interpretation of the test results.
  5. Surgery: Surgery for colon, rectal or prostate cancer and even radiation therapy in the pelvic area can damage nerves and blood vessels, which may result in ED.
  6. Trauma: That is physical impact injury.

Side Effects Of Medications

There’s a long use of prescription medications and over-the- counter medications that have the potential side effect of ED. If you observe problems with erectile function after starting a new medication. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about possible side effects of the medication and possible alternatives and solution.

Lifestyle Factors

  1. Alcohol: Having drinking may immediately reduce your ability to have a strong erection. Long-term excessive drinking can cause nerve and liver damage and normal imbalance.
  2. Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of exercise can lead to ED.
  3. Smoking: Men who smoke have a greater chance of developing ED than men who don’t use tobacco according to a clinical study.

Psychological Causes

These can occur alone or combination with one or more of the physical causes of ED.

  • Performance Anxiety: When a man is anxious about his sexual performance, his erectile function can be affected.
  • Stress: Stress can affect sexual performance.
  • Depression: Men with erectile dysfunction can have some degree of depression and men with depression have ED.
  • Relationship Problems: Tensions with your sexual partner whether related to sexual issues or others such as female, family issue etc can negatively affect sexual function. It is difficult to hate and to love at the same time.

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