Medications commonly contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). By far the most common are various blood pressure medications, including clonidine (brand name Catapres) and the many beta-blocker drugs, among others. Diuretics, which are often used in the treatment of hypertension, may also worsen ED. You might be reading this and saying, "Great! High blood pressure causes ED and the medicines used to treat high blood pressure cause ED. What am I supposed to do?" You can't let high blood pressure go untreated, because it will worsen your vascular disease overall, and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. The goal is to find the medicines that are the least likely to worsen ED. Fortunately, ACEs and ARBs have a fairly low risk of causing ED.
Reduced hormone production: Elevated pressure in the circulatory system affect the production of certain hormones, including those that regulate sexual drive and erection response. There also is some evidence that men with high blood pressure have lower sperm counts and testosterone levels than men with normal blood pressure, which in turn may lower the hormonal response to sexual stimulation. 
Diabetes is an example of an endocrine disease that can cause a person to experience impotence. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to utilize the hormone insulin. One of the side effects associated with chronic diabetes is nerve damage. This affects penis sensations. Other complications associated with diabetes are impaired blood flow and hormone levels. Both of these factors can contribute to impotence.
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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual function. It’s a common sexual problem, affecting as many as 30 million men in the United States. Most cases of ED have a physical cause, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also lead to ED. But for some men, psychological issues are the root of the problem.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get an erection or to keep one that's firm enough or that lasts long enough for a man to have a satisfying sexual experience. Occasional bouts of ED aren't unusual. In fact, as many as one in five men deal with erectile dysfunction to some degree. Symptoms, of course, are rather obvious. And while age can be a risk factor, so can medication use, health conditions, lifestyle factors (like smoking), and other concerns. Treatment is available and may involve prescriptions, habit changes, or other options.

Options: Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about lowering your dose (sexual side effects are often dose-related) or whether nondrug therapies might work just as well or better for you than a drug. You might also want to explore switching drugs, especially if you’re older and taking one of the tricyclic antidepressants, which are considered to be potentially inappropriate drugs for older people.
How they can cause sexual dysfunction: All antipsychotic drugs block dopamine, a brain chemical that helps regulate emotional responses and control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. They also increase levels of the hormone prolactin, which can lead to ED, reduced libido and difficulties achieving orgasm. And, like antidepressants, they block the action of acetylcholine, which researchers believe can lead to problems in all areas of sexual function.

Epidemiological studies consistently show that prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) increases with ageing. Nonetheless, complaints of ED even in younger men are becoming more and more frequent. Healthcare professionals working in Sexual Medicine but even those operating in different clinical contexts might be adequately prepared to answer this increasing requirement. ED in younger men is likely to be overlooked and dismissed without performing any medical assessment, even the most basic ones, such as collection of medical history and physical exam. This is due to the widespread assumption that ED in younger individuals is a self-limiting condition, which does not deserve any clinical evaluation or therapy and can be managed only with patient reassurance. However, evidence shows that, in younger subjects, organic, psychological and relational conditions can contribute to the pathogenesis of ED and all these conditions might be evaluated and treated, whenever necessary. Among the organic conditions contributing to the onset of ED, metabolic and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors are surprisingly of particular relevance in this age group. In fact, in younger men with ED, even more than in older ones, recognizing CV risk factors or conditions suggestive of cardio-metabolic derangements can help identifying men who, although at low absolute risk due to young age, carry a high relative risk for development of CV events. In this view, the assessment of a possible organic component of ED even in younger individuals acquires a pivotal importance, because it offers the unique opportunity to unearth the presence of CV risk factors, thus allowing effective and high quality preventive interventions.

To get out of your head, you need to start focusing on the delicious sensations (touch, smells, sounds) that you are experiencing in the present moment and stop the “what ifs” from bringing you down. One really helpful approach to getting out of your head is deep breathing which helps lower anxiety. Next, you can imagine that each breath you take is connecting you with the pleasurable touch you are giving to and receiving from your partner. This should help to get you more engrossed in the experience and less anxious or distracted. 
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For obvious reasons, ED can be a sensitive subject, one that until relatively recently men were more likely to try to hide than to deal with. Fortunately, a deeper understanding of the variety of causes of erectile dysfunction has led to medications, therapies, and other treatments that can be more individualized and more likely to be effective—and more open discussion about addressing the concern.
Instead of injecting a medicine, some men insert a suppository of alprostadil into the urethra. A suppository is a solid piece of medicine that you insert into your body where it dissolves. A health care professional will prescribe a prefilled applicator for you to insert the pellet about an inch into your urethra. An erection will begin within 8 to 10 minutes and may last 30 to 60 minutes.
Penile erection is managed by two mechanisms: the reflex erection, which is achieved by directly touching the penile shaft, and the psychogenic erection, which is achieved by erotic or emotional stimuli. The former uses the peripheral nerves and the lower parts of the spinal cord, whereas the latter uses the limbic system of the brain. In both cases, an intact neural system is required for a successful and complete erection. Stimulation of the penile shaft by the nervous system leads to the secretion of nitric oxide (NO), which causes the relaxation of smooth muscles of corpora cavernosa (the main erectile tissue of penis), and subsequently penile erection. Additionally, adequate levels of testosterone (produced by the testes) and an intact pituitary gland are required for the development of a healthy erectile system. As can be understood from the mechanisms of a normal erection, impotence may develop due to hormonal deficiency, disorders of the neural system, lack of adequate penile blood supply or psychological problems.[19] Spinal cord injury causes sexual dysfunction including ED. Restriction of blood flow can arise from impaired endothelial function due to the usual causes associated with coronary artery disease, but can also be caused by prolonged exposure to bright light.

Certain medications can interfere with nerve impulses or blood flow to the penis. According to a report by Harvard University, about 25 percent of men dealing with erectile dysfunction are having problems because of a medication they take. In fact, ED is one of the main reasons some men stop taking medication for conditions such as high blood pressure and depression.


The longer a man has had diabetes, the more likely it is that he'll develop ED, especially if his blood glucose levels have not been well controlled. Complications of accompanying heart diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol also can play a role in impotence. A man with diabetes who also smokes increases his risk of developing ED.
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Patients should continue testosterone therapy only if there is improvement in the symptoms of hypogonadism and should be monitored regularly. You will need periodic blood tests for testosterone levels and blood tests to monitor your blood count and PSA. Testosterone therapy has health risks, and thus doctors should closely monitor its use. Testosterone therapy can worsen sleep apnea and congestive heart failure.
In some cases, ED can be a warning sign of more serious disease. One study suggests ED is a strong predictor of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease. The researchers say all men diagnosed with ED should be evaluated for cardiovascular disease. This does not mean every man with ED will develop heart disease, or that every man with heart disease has ED, but patients should be aware of the link.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and health history. They may do tests to determine if your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition. You should expect a physical exam where your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, check your blood pressure, and examine your testicles and penis. They may also recommend a rectal exam to check your prostate. Additionally, you may need blood or urine tests to rule out other conditions.
Dr. Niket Sonpal is the Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Associate Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. He's a practicing Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist with a focus on Men's and Women's Health, and a regular contributor to Women's health, Shape and Prevention Magazine.
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