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ARTICLE Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Sometimes men have trouble talking about sexual issues with their doctor. But if you and your partner are struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED), it's important to seek help. Remind him that ED is a medical problem that can be treated.

A treatment for ED will depend on what's causing it. Don't assume it's just part of the normal aging process. That's usually not the case.

Specific causes may include:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Diabetes-related injuries to blood vessels and nerves
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Reactions to prescription drugs, including antidepressants
  • Unhealthy habits like smoking, overeating and inactivity
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Treatments for prostate cancer
  • Diseases that affect the nerves, like multiple sclerosis
  • Reduced levels of testosterone (rare)
  • Depression and anxiety

Your partner's doctor can offer a number of treatments for ED. You can decide together which treatment fits you best as a couple, which may include:

  • Lifestyle changes. Exercising, quitting smoking, losing weight and decreasing alcohol use may help to alleviate ED.
  • Counseling. In addition to treating the physical cause, counseling can help couples handle the emotional stress of ED.
  • Medication. Prescription drugs that increase the blood flow to the penis to facilitate an erection may be an option for treating the physical cause of ED.
  • Other treatment options. Injections, vacuum devices or penile implants may help men when other options fail.