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Don’t let ED get you down

KNOWLEDGE: It is estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 will have it to some degree.

ERECTILE dysfunction (ED) – also known as impotence – is the inability to get and maintain an erection. It is a very common condition, par- ticularly in older men.

It is estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 will have it to some degree.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have erectile dysfunction for more than a few weeks. They will assess your general state of health because ED can be the first sign of more serious health conditions.

Why does erectile dysfunction happen?

Erectile dysfunction can have a range of causes, both physical and psychological, and is commonly associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Psychological causes of ED include: anxiety, depression and or relationship problems.

Sometimes erectile dysfunction only occurs in certain situations. For example, you may be able to get an erection during masturbation, or you may find that you sometimes wake up with an erection but you are unable to get an erec- tion with your sexual partner.

Getting a diagnosis

Although you may be embarrassed, your GP can usually diagnose erectile dysfunction.

This will involve answering questions about your symptoms, as well as a physical examination and some simple tests.

Can it be treated?

Erectile dysfunction is primarily treated by tack- ling the cause of the problem, whether this is physical or psychological. Your GP may suggest lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, to try to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

You may also be given medication such as cholesterol-lowering statins and drugs to reduce your blood pressure.

Medication, such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra), can be used to manage it in at least two-thirds of cases.

Vacuum pumps that encourage blood to flow to the penis and cause an erection are also successful in 90 per cent of cases.

Overall, treatments for ED have improved significantly in recent years.
Most men are eventually able to have sex again.

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