What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is when a man has trouble on a consistent basis with keeping an erection. It can be defined as an inability to achieve an erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. 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?
The organic causes of ED include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart and vascular disease
- Hormone problems
- Pelvic surgery
- Injury and trauma
- Side effects of medications (for example, Prozac and other SSRIs, Propecia)
While 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.
Related: Coping With Erectile Dysfunction
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.