Erectile dysfunction (impotency) is defined as the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. In 1998, the release of Viagra™ heralded the era in America of treating erectile dysfunction using pills. With the release of this drug, the discussion of erectile dysfunction was brought out of the bedroom, and into the physician’s office. Numerous TV commercials and print ads can be seen that address this issue. Today there are three oral agents that correct erectile dysfunction, as well as other pharmacological treatments and surgical and non-surgical therapies with the same purpose. Leading up to the revolutionizing of the treatment of this disease process, a much improved understanding of erectile dysfunction has occurred.
ED has been estimated to affect 15 and 30 million people. Advancing age has been associated with an increasing incidence of the disease, however advancing age does not preclude being able to maintain a healthy sex life, and many patients well into their 70’s and even 80’s are able to have sexual relations.
Numerous causes of erectile dysfunction have been identified. Physical causes, such as other underlying diseases, injury, or, very commonly, side effects from numerous drugs have been associated with erectile dysfunction. Some of the disease processes that are commonly associated with erectile dysfunction include heart disease, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and prostate disease. Stress, depression and smoking may also be related to erectile dysfunction. Neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis have also been associated with erectile dysfunction. Lifestyle factors such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle may also be risk factors.
Despite the high prevalence, and many associated underlying risk factors that can contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction, due to the excellent understanding of the disease, and the treatment options that are available, patients no longer need to suffer in silence.
Published On: June 26, 2006