Erectile dysfunction, commonly called impotence or ED, can happen for many reasons — excessive alcohol consumption, stress, aging or even relationship problems. However, if you are regularly having issues getting and keeping an erection, it could be a physical problem, not a psychological one. The urology team at MultiCare can help get your sexual function back on track.
The most common symptom of erectile dysfunction is being unable to consistently get an erection. This may happen every time you try to have sex, or it may only happen sometimes. You may be able to get an erection but not keep it during sexual activity. Or you may only be able to get a partial erection.
There are many possible causes for ED, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about it. Some risk factors include:
Your doctor will take a full medical history and perform a complete physical exam. Although it can be awkward to discuss ED with your doctor, it is important to be open and honest about all your symptoms, because they could indicate a serious medical problem.
Your provider will likely order blood tests and conduct a Doppler ultrasound, which detects poor blood flow through your penis. You may also be asked to conduct a nocturnal erection test, where a device is slipped on your penis overnight to measure if you can get an erection during sleep. Or you may be injected with medicine to cause an erection to determine how full your penis becomes and how long your erection lasts.
The treatment you receive for your ED will depend on the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend adjusting your medications to eliminate side effects that could be causing problems. If psychological causes are suspected, your provider may suggest counseling. Lifestyle changes like losing weight and quitting drinking can also have a big impact.
Many people with ED are also prescribed oral medications to help them get and maintain an erection. Injectable or suppository use of alprostadil can also help some people. Testosterone therapy may be another option.
For people who cannot take medications, a vacuum device, or “penis pump,” can help maintain an erection. In extreme cases, surgery may be required.
If you are experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction, know that you aren’t alone. ED is common, especially as people age, and it is treatable. Don’t let your self-esteem and sex life continue to suffer because you’re too embarrassed to talk to a doctor. MultiCare urologists have the experience, knowledge and compassion to ensure you get the correct diagnosis and a treatment that works for your lifestyle.