Discussions of male sexual dysfunction naturally involve the causes of and treatments for what is routinely referred to as “impotence” or “erectile dysfunction.” When sexually aroused, the male experiences hormonal changes in the brain that stimulate the nerve endings and result in increased blood flow to the penis, causing it to stiffen. That function fails, therefore, when the normal flow of blood becomes obstructed for a variety of reasons, many having to do with lifestyle choices. Diminished or blocked blood flow can be the result of clogged arteries and blood vessels, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, the causes of which, when not attributed purely to genetics, involve excessive consumption of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, smoking, and excessive consumption of alcohol. In addition to these “lifestyle”-related causes of male sexual dysfunction, any number of illnesses affecting the central nervous system can result in impotence, including multiple sclerosis.
In addition to these physical causes, mental health can also play a role in male sexual dysfunction. Stress and anxiety are common causes of impotence in men. Because erectile dysfunction can be caused by either physical or mental developments – and often a combination of both – treatment options will emphasize the predominant cause. Obviously, to the extent poor physical conditioning is the primary cause, then lifestyle changes involving increased exercise and diet are emphasized in the hopes that these noninvasive measures will provide a cure. Similarly, cessation of smoking and drinking alcohol would be recommended in the event one or both activity is suspected as a contributing factor.
Men with particularly worrisome circulatory problems that adversely affect blood flow may require surgery to correct the problem. Surgical options would be oriented to the specific nature of the problem, whether atherosclerosis, damage to the heart, or any other condition, including those caused by injury, that reduces blood flow. In addition to surgical procedures, depending upon the causes of dysfunction, physicians may prescribe oral medicines like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra, all of which increase blood flow to the penis by relaxing the muscles in the penis.
As sexual dysfunction can be a side effect of some prescription medications, one’s physician should be able to identify the linkage and hopefully suggest corrective measures through substitution of medications.
With regard to sexual dysfunction caused primarily by stress or anxiety, anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication could be prescribed in combination with one of the above mentioned oral medicines like Viagra. As a common side-effect of anti-depressants is sexual dysfunction, though, finding the proper dosage for each individual patient is important so that the side effect is reduced or eliminated while still allowing for beneficial dosages of the anti-depressant.
Finally, penile implants may be inserted into the penis in the cases of patients for whom sexual dysfunction is a physical problem unrelated to simple life-style choices, such as from injuries that impede blood flow to the penis or damage the nervous system. The most common implants used today involve hydraulic pumps to inflate the implant and cause an erection.