Erectile dysfunction is one of those problems that can simply make you feel like less of a man. In our culture, we place so much emphasis on the male sexual ego that it can literally be devastating to some men. Add in the fact that ED can sometimes impact your ability to conceive a child, and it’s like a one-two punch to your sexual identity.

Understanding a little bit about ED and its impact on fertility, as well as what can be done about it, can help you to cope with the situation. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of having the willingness to talk to your doctor about your ED and taking specific steps to fix it.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is sometimes also known as “impotence” (which doesn’t help with the ego situation we described earlier). ED is when a man has trouble on a consistent basis with keeping an erection. A man with ED may not be able to ejaculate, which makes conception nearly impossible. Around 30 million men in the United States experience ED. It’s not an uncommon problem at all, and it can occur in men as early as their late 30s.

What causes ED?

There are several things that can cause ED. The most prominent is aging. About 40% of men at the age of 40 experience ED. That number rises steadily, with 70% of men experiencing ED at the age of 70.

About half of men with diabetes experience ED. Research tells us, however, that controlling blood sugar levels can mitigate the risk of ED for diabetes patients.

There are a number of other potential health-related causes for ED, including heart disease, kidney disease hardening of the arteries and multiple sclerosis.

Some lifestyle choices can contribute to ED, as well. Smokers have twice the risk as nonsmokers. A lack of exercise and being overweight are both risk factors, too. A variety of medications, both prescription and non-prescription, can cause ED as well.

For some men, ED is psychological and related to concerns about self-image and performance anxiety.

Treating ED to Help Fertility

For many men, improving fertility is simply a matter of treating the ED. Treatments vary depending on the man and the actual cause of the ED. For many men, treatment involves the use of ED medications like Viagra or Cialis. For other men, it may require more in-depth measures, including testosterone injections, surgery, and even psychotherapy.

Unfortunately, many men with ED may also have another problem that’s causing them to struggle with infertility. For example, if a man has low testosterone levels and it’s impacting his sexual function, there’s a good chance it’s impacting his sperm count as well. Hormone therapy may or may not resolve that part of the problem.

If you’re trying to conceive and having problems with ED, talk to your doctor. Get on the path to treating the ED so you can identify what underlying fertility problems might be at stake, and get closer to your goal of conceiving a child.