Erectile dysfunction (ED) hits an estimated 30 million men across America, with your odds of experiencing it increasing as you get older. Most men will face ED at some point in their lives. And yet, for how common it is, it remains a misunderstood condition.

Why? Because it is a difficult subject to discuss, one that many patients struggle with even admitting they’ve experienced. This article is for anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about ED but was reticent to ask.

Keep in mind, if you are struggling with ED, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Couples who wish to engage in responsible family planning can be sidelined by ED, and it is worth it to look into this issue. No article can take the place of a practicing health professional. But hopefully, this information will be helpful to those seeking answers.

What causes it?

Before you can understand how to deal with ED, it’s important to know what it is and how it works. Simply put, ED (Erectile dysfunction) is a condition that makes it difficult for a man to have and/or maintain an erection firm enough to engage in sex.

Years of misinformation, folklore, and masculine posturing have led some to the idea that assumption that ED only affects those who are not sufficiently “manly.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are, in fact, multiple legitimate medical causes for ED: heart disease, clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, use of certain prescription medications, use of tobacco products, prostate cancer treatments, diabetes, obesity, sleep disorders, neurological/nerve disorders, endocrine disease, the development of internal penile scarring, pelvic or spinal injuries, and more.

An erection requires nerve stimulation to send blood rushing into the penis’s chambers, inflating it to firmness. Any condition affecting penile tissue, blood flow, or the nerves which communicate said stimulation can result in ED.

What can help?

There are a number of options for those dealing with ED, from losing weight to getting injections. The most well-known and frequently used option, though, is receiving a prescription for medication that can help.

You may wonder how to ask your doctor for such medication, or even to bring up this issue at all. It’s simple. Just ask. If there is only one person you feel comfortable talking with about ED, it should be your doctor. The average doctor sees hundreds of patients every single week. They know how common ED is, and they understand its causes better than anyone.

Not only can you trust your doctor to keep your condition confidential, but you can also rest assured that no one is better equipped to help you deal with it. No one knows your medical history like your doctor, and so no one knows better what your body needs to operate at peak functionality. That could mean medications, but it could also mean simple lifestyle changes, such as eating differently, sleeping more, or getting more exercise.

Most importantly, ED can sometimes be an early indicator of more severe conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. The earlier you talk about it with your doctor, the earlier you can begin fighting ED, as well as any related issues that could otherwise be life-threatening.