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What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as male impotence, is described as a type of sexual dysfunction characterized by impaired ability to develop and maintain an erecting of the penis. Erectile dysfunction is something that bothers men of all ages. Normally, erection occurs when blood rushes into the sponge-like tissue within the penis. When a person becomes sexually aroused, brain sends messages to the rest of the body, and blood gradually starts to enter the genital region, making the penis enlarged and firm. Erecting can sometimes occur even spontaneously, without any sexual arousal, and most of the males experience nocturnal penile tumescence, during rapid eye movement sleep. When a man is unable to develop or maintain the erection he is usually diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. A special branch of medicine, andrology, deals with the problems of erectile dysfunction. Andrology is concerned with health problems of males, and especially their reproductive and urological problems. One of the goals of andrology is to find out what actually causes erectile dysfunction in different patients. For some men, the underlying medical condition may be responsible for erectile dysfunction, while the others may suffer as a consequence of some psychological reasons, or because they are using a certain kind of medications.

Causes of erectile dysfunction

According to some studies, about 70 percent of erectile dysfunction cases are caused by underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, and atherosclerosis, vascular or neurologic diseases. Any kind of neurogenic disorder can be responsible for erectile dysfunction, since sexual arousal starts from the brain. If anything goes wrong on the route from brain to the genitals, a person may not be able to achieve and maintain the erection. Neurogenic disorders include brain injuries and various nerve disorders such as MS, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Sometimes, erectile dysfunction occurs spontaneously with aging. It is estimated that men in their 60s are four times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than men in their 40s. A combination of lifestyle factors can also contribute to the development of this disability. One of the major causes of erectile dysfunction is smoking, since it promotes narrowing of the arteries, and arteries are main suppliers of blood to the genital area. Studies that are more recent reveal that the number of hours spent on a bike and other kinds of constant the pressure on the penis, like from the saddle of an upright bicycle, may directly contribute to erectile dysfunction. This condition is also caused by medications used to treat some other conditions, namely lithium and paroxetine.

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