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    What is erectile dysfunction?

    An erection is the result of an increased blood flow to the penis. However, erectile problems may simply interrupt this blood flow. That means it becomes difficult to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse.

    Erectile dysfunction is also referred to as impotence.

    What are the symptoms?

    Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man experiences the following symptoms:

    • Problems with achieving an erection
    • Difficulty in maintaining an erection
    • Reduced interest in sex

    How the problem manifests itself will be related to the cause.

    NB: Sometimes erectile dysfunction is confused with premature ejaculation. It is important to recognise the difference between these two disorders because they do not normally occur together. And in addition, the treatment options are very different.

    What are the possible causes?

    This condition can have multiple causes, and occasional erectile dysfunction is not uncommon. For example, many men may experience problems in times of stress. As a recent study stated, smoking can play a factor too. 

    Frequent problems can be a sign of health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, for example. And if this should be the case, then it is recommended you should contact your doctor.

    This can also be sensible if you have any questions or feelings of anxiety. And in addition, if your blood circulation is restricted, then your lifestyle may also play an important role.

    Other erectile dysfunction causes are:

    • Emotional or psychological problems
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Stress
    • Fear
    • Overweight
    • Tension
    • Relationship problems
    • Drug use
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Smoking

    Age can also play a role, although a 2013 study stated that one in four men seeking their first treatment for erectile dyfunction were 40 years or less. The chance of erectile dysfunction increases later in life, but that does not mean that everyone will experience problems.

    In general, the better health a person enjoys, the less chance they will experience erectile dysfunction.

    How is a diagnosis determined?

    The diagnosis of erectile dysfunction can be determined by a few questions about the mental and physical state of the individual. In most cases, this is enough to determine a treatment.

    However, when it becomes clear there is a chronic (underlying) problem, further research may be needed into any physical or mental problems. Once a diagnosis has been made, a treatment can then be prescribed.

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