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Many things may contribute to ED

It is often not easy to talk about personal health issues, especially when they pertain to reproductive health or sensitive issues that affect intimate relationships. Men who experience erectile dysfunction, or ED, often find it difficult to talk about the condition with a spouse, family member or even a doctor. However, proactively addressing ED could help a man alleviate his symptoms.

ED is defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection to be able to participate in sexual activity. The Minnesota Men's Health Center says that one in 10 men in the world have ED. The liklihood of experiencing ED increases with age. ED may be caused by any number of factors. Hormones, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, mental health, and other physical responses are necessary to come together to generate an erection.

Men may experience different levels of ED. Severe cases may result in erectile difficulties seven or eight out of 10 attempts. Mild cases could be zero to three failures out of 10. But men should know there are options that can treat ED and that it may be a symptom of an unrelated health condition that needs to be treated. Treating the underlying condition may be enough to reverse erectile dysfunction, according to The Mayo Clinic. Most issues with ED are linked to something physical.

Here are some conditions that may contribute to ED symptoms.

* Heart disease

* Atherosclerosis

* High blood pressure

* Obesity

* Diabetes

* Low testosterone

* Parkinson's disease

* Prostate cancer surgery

* Multiple sclerosis

* Tobacco use

Smokers have a higher likelihood of erectile dysfunction than nonsmokers, according to MMHC. Men who smoke more than one pack a day are 50 percent more likely to experience impotency than nonsmokers the same age.

ED also may be a side effect of certain medications. Switching medications may alleviate ED.

In terms of different treatments for ED, there are several options. After testing and conducting a thorough health history, a doctor may suggest the following.

* Oral medications: Medications like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Staxyn all work in similar fashion. They enhance the effect of nitric oxide in the body to relax the muscles in the penis. This helps increase blood flow to get an erection in response to physical stimulation. You may need to work with a physician to determine the best dosing for your condition.

* Injections: There are injections that can create an erection. Also, there are penile suppositories that can be inserted into the urethra. For men who have ED from low testosterone levels, testosterone therapy may be recommended.

* Pumps: A vacuum erection device is a tube that is placed over the penis. The vacuum draws blood into the penis, and a tension ring is then placed on the base of the penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm.

* Implants: This treatment involves surgically implanting inflatable or semirigid rods into the two sides of the penis to aid with erection.

* Counseling: Sometimes ED is a psychological issue. Working with a psychologist could help alleviate problems that are contributing to ED. Taking medications that treat psychological issues may also help with ED by removing the underlying problem.

* Lifestyle changes: Losing weight and quitting smoking are often effective ways to alleviate ED.

Erectile dysfunction can be an embarrassing condition to discuss. But the sooner men do so, the sooner they'll be on the road to a more fulfilling intimate life.