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Erectile Dysfunction

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Occasional incidents of erectile dysfunction are normal, but if it’s regularly interfering with regular sexual activity, then it becomes a cause for concern.

Signs and Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

Aside from difficulty getting and sustaining an erection, erectile dysfunction may be accompanied by other problems such as reduced sexual desire, low testosterone levels and premature or delayed ejaculation.

Erectile dysfunction also has an emotional impact, including:

  • Lack of intimacy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty getting your partner pregnant
  • Stress
  • Depression

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Achieving an erection in itself is actually a complex process that involves stimulation of the brain, hormones, and the nervous and vascular systems. Anything that affects one of these processes may result in erectile dysfunction.

Common causes of erectile dysfunction are lack of blood flow to the penis or nerve damage often caused by other medical conditions.

Mental conditions like anxiety and depression can cause or worsen symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Older age, certain medications and poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, being overweight or obese can also increase the chances of erectile dysfunction.

How to Diagnose Erectile Dysfunction

A medical history review and physical exam are typically enough for a urologist to diagnose erectile dysfunction. Sometimes, further tests are recommended:

  • Blood Tests – Detect signs of diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalance, low testosterone and other health issues.
  • Urinalysis – Detect sugar, testosterone and protein levels in the urine for possible signs of diabetes, hormonal imbalance and kidney problems.
  • Ultrasound – Detect any anatomical or health issues that cause problems in the way blood flows in and out the penis and the testes.
  • Psychosocial Assessment – Diagnose mental conditions like anxiety and depression.

Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is usually a very treatable condition that can be addressed with:

Oral or Locally Injected Medications
Oral medicines such as Viagra help increase blood flow to the penis to sustain an erection. In the case of locally injected medicines, they are injected into the shaft of the penis to relax the smooth muscles of the corpora cavernosa, causing it to become engorged with blood.

Vacuum Devices
Such devices work by encasing the penis in a tube and using a suction pump to gently draw blood into the corpora cavernosa, engorging and expanding the penis. An elastic ring is then placed at the base of the penis to maintain the erection.

Shockwave Therapy
In recent years, shockwave treatment to the penile shaft has been studied and could be considered as a form of treatment in the near future.

Surgery
Surgical treatments for erectile dysfunction, which include penile implants and vascular surgery (to repair arteries with discrete blockages) are effective, but are usually considered as last-resort options.

Erectile dysfunction may be a distressing condition, but a treatable one. At International Urology, Fertility & Gynaecology Clinic, we provide personalized and attentive care to our patients for optimal results. For a detailed assessment, contact urologist Dr Michael Wong at 6838-1212 today.

Dr Michael Wong

Medical Director & Senior Consultant Urologist
FAMS (Urology), FICS (USA), FRCS (Edinburgh),
M Med (Surgery), MBBS (S’pore)

Dr Michael Wong is a Senior Consultant Urologist who is internationally recognized for his surgical expertise and academic contribution to the field of Urology, in particular the subspecialized field of minimally invasive Endourology.

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