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Male Sexual Dysfunction Questions Answered

February 23, 2018
Male sexual dysfunction, also referred to as erectile dysfunction (ED), affects 1 in 5 men by the time they turn 50 years old. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain a rigid erection. In this segment of "To Your Health," Dr. Ronald Tutrone, Chief, Department of Urology at GBMC, and host John Lazarou discuss the causes and treatments of male sexual dysfunction.

There are many potential causes for ED, both physical and psychological. "It's a very complex and multifactorial issue," says Dr. Tutrone. Erections happen when blood flow to the penis is increased; anything inhibiting this can lead to ED. Some causes include:
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Certain thyroid diseases
  • Low testosterone
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking
  • Depression
Diagnosis and determination of the cause or causes of ED are usually done during a face-to-face meeting with a primary care provider or a urologist. During the appointment, the doctor will check for external abnormalities and will order any pertinent lab tests. He or she will also discuss sexual history with the patient, as this can be a major indicator of sexual dysfunction.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments for ED, including oral medications called PDE inhibitors, mechanical devices, injection therapy, and implants. Dr. Tutrone describes how each treatment works and when they are appropriate to use. Because ED is such a common issue, primary care providers are well equipped to treat it, so it often isn't necessary to visit a specialist.
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