HealthWhat is Erectile Dysfunction?

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as sexual impotence, is one of the biggest concerns of men in reference to the field of sexual health. Likewise, currently, there has been a notable increase in medical and psychological consultations related to this problem, including the use of supplements for erectile dysfunction.

Human sexuality consists of a relevant dimension of the personality and experience of individuals that arises as a result of the interaction of factors of a different nature: organic, psychological, environmental, social, etc. As a consequence, the need to address this issue from a holistic perspective and a multidisciplinary approach is highlighted.

In this way, sexuality constitutes a biopsychosocial function whose effectiveness will depend on the coordination of various components. Likewise, this function is structured in a complex process in which different phases are differentiated: sexual desire, excitement, and orgasm. We can talk about sexual dysfunction when one or more of these phases are altered. In this way, it is possible to differentiate different groups of problems associated with sexuality:

     Sexual desire disorders.

     Sexual arousal disorders.

     Orgasm disorders.

     Sexual disorders due to pain.

To this more generic classification, it is necessary to add the problems associated with a medical condition or pathology that could justify the presence of any of these problems, as well as sexual dysfunction induced by substances, which includes the consumption of certain drugs. Furthermore, these problems can appear at the beginning of sexual life or in more advanced stages.

On the other hand, due to the involvement of this variety of factors and the great diversity of sexual behaviors, great difficulty arises in establishing a difference between normality and pathology.

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Despite the long list of research in this regard, the exact prevalence of sexual dysfunctions is not known due to the numerous variations found in different studies. However, the data obtained so far indicate the presence of a high percentage of men and women who suffer from some of these pathologies at some point in their lives.

Among male sexual dysfunctions, the most common are premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and lack of sexual desire. These problems, which affect the different phases of the human sexual response, prevent the enjoyment and complete resolution of sexual activity, generating serious repercussions at an individual and interpersonal level. Erectile dysfunction has broad implications for a person’s life because the aspects it influences are not single. There are several aspects that can be negatively affected by erectile dysfunction.

Until very recently, sexual problems have reflected a very small number of consultations for various social and cultural reasons. However, since the appearance of various campaigns and new forms of intervention, there has been a normalization of this type of problem, contributing to a different interpretation of them and an increase in medical and psychological consultations related to treating erectile dysfunction.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction consists of difficulty achieving and maintaining an appropriate erection until sexual activity is completed. However, this difficulty does not necessarily imply the presence of problems with ejaculation or arousal.

This problem can arise at different times. Depending on the time of appearance, it can be classified into two different typologies:

Primary: appears at the beginning of sexual life (adolescence) and may be the result of vascular anomalies or other organic problems.

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Secondary: arises after a period of erectile function and normal sexual activity. It is usually more related to psychological causes. A high level of stress is directly proportional to the likelihood that a person will experience erectile problems.

Erectile dysfunction has become the most common reason for consultation among sexual dysfunctions. However, it has been observed that its prevalence is lower than the problems associated with the absence of control over ejaculation. Along these lines, it is estimated that the prevalence of men with erectile dysfunction ranges between 8 and 52% of men between 40 and 70 years old, rising to 75% in the case of people aged 80 years. Likewise, in various studies, it has been found that 8.6% of men between 25 and 39 years old have some degree of erectile dysfunction.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Regarding the etiology or causes of this type of problem, those of an organic or psychological nature stand out. Likewise, on numerous occasions factors of both types appear, making it difficult to identify the main reason and preventing the establishment of a single causative factor.

The main factors responsible for the genesis of erectile dysfunction are the following:

Organic: vascular problems, hormonal alterations, neurological lesions, anatomical alterations, endocrine causes, etc.

Psychological: anxiety, concern about sexual performance, negative sexual experiences, fear of failure in the relationship, inadequate sexual education, specific sexual phobias, stressful situations, etc.

Negative sexual experiences and anxiety associated with the sexual act can cause a loss of self-esteem and an increase in the level of anxiety that will result in worse performance in future sexual practices. In this way, a loop is produced capable of explaining the maintenance of this type of problem.

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On the other hand, both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation have been associated with stress responses and well-known psychosomatic disorders. The presence of stressful life events generates harmful consequences for the body. In this way, these types of events can alter the intrapsychic balance of the individual, giving rise to behavioral patterns and new habits that will seek readaptation in the environment.

Some authors have defined the existence of a complex process that would explain the origin and maintenance of erectile dysfunction: the presence of some negative experience and the demand from the partner would generate a negative predisposition accompanied by a perception of lack of control over one’s own sexual response as well as the results. This situation would encourage a shift of attention from the erotic stimuli (necessary for adequate arousal and erection) to the negative consequences (impossibility of maintaining the erection and carrying out a coital relationship), which would generate an increase in the level of anxiety that would lead to loss of erection and, ultimately, the tendency to avoid sexual relations.

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