Erectile Dysfunction – Physical or Psychological?

Erectile Dysfunction – Physical or Psychological?

Most of my posts are directed towards women but this post is meant for both men and women.

To the men reading this post, please understand that there could be real health issues at the root of your sexual challenges and you need to get checked out by your doctor. Depending on the results, a nutritionist or naturopath can provide healthier, safer options than the use of chemical drugs.

To my female community, I hope that this article will give a better understanding of what your men might be going through and that they need to get checked out. It’s a delicate subject and I encourage you to approach with much love and understanding. Please don’t nag them about getting checked out by the doctor. Just give them this article and let me do the talking for you 🙂

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to either obtain or maintain an erection. There are many possible causes from stress to heart disease. The good news is that there are numerous ways to help and most ED is rooted in physical causes.

Causes of ED include:

Organic (90%)

  • Vascular insufficiency
    • Atherosclerosis
    • Pelvic surgery
    • Pelvic trauma
  • Drugs
    • Antihistamines
    • Antihypertensives
    • Anticholinergics
    • Antidepressants
    • Antipsychotics
    • Tranquilizers
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Endocrine disorders
    • Diabetes
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Decreased male sex hormones
    • Elevated prolactin levels
    • High serum estrogen levels
    • Diseases or trauma to sexual organs
      • Diseases of the penis
      • Prostate disorders
    • Neurological diseases
    • Pelvic trauma
    • Pelvic surgery
    • MS

Psychological (10%)

  • Psychiatric illness
  • Stress
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Depression

There are various methods used to evaluate ED:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory studies
    • Complete blood count and urinalysis
    • Biochemical profile
    • Glucose tolerance test
    • Serum hormone levels
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Nighttime penile monitoring
  • Neurological examination
  • Vascular examination

As you can see from the above lists, there are many possible causes of ED. If it happens once in a while, there is no need to be concerned. If it happens frequently, then it’s time to go see the doctor.

I preach open communication a LOT, especially when it comes to sex. It’s probably one of the biggest sources of contention in a relationship, other than money or kids. We women sometimes have issues wrapped up in the size of breasts (that was a HUGE part of my identity and when I lost a significant amount of breast size I struggled a lot with it) or our ability to have children. For many men, their manliness is often tied to their ability to perform well. This is a very sensitive topic (yes, I realize I’m mentioning this twice but it deserves repeating) and must be handled in an understanding manner.

So what can you do if you or your man (depending on who’s reading this of course) is starting to have trouble with erections? Fortunately there are a number of things you can do.

Our world is so stressful these days that a healthy nutritional plan and regular exercise are probably two of the best things you can do to improve not only sexual health, but overall health.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is often a challenge for men but if sex is important, suck it up and eat your veggies ;), lean meats (preferably hormone and antibiotic free), chicken, fish and legumes are all excellent choices. Stay away from refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, too much alcohol (especially when you want to perform), tobacco.

Exercise is another critical component to a healthy sex life … for both partners. Ladies, you want to be strong and flexible to get the most out of your sexual experience and men need the strength and endurance to keep going. Even if you start by just going for walks before or after dinner if you’re not used to exercising. If you have kids, take them with you. The days of the family going for neighbourhood walks together seems to have dwindled horribly. Start with 3 days a week for 20-30 minutes. Obviously if you’re capable, do more but don’t tucker yourself out to the point where the exercise is counter productive. This also gives you time as a couple (or family) to reconnect and that’s so important to our wellbeing.

In men over the age 50, psychological factors are rarely the cause of erectile dysfunction. The good news in that is that it’s treatable! And if there is a heart problem, it’s a good indicator that something is wrong and maybe your inability to obtain or maintain an erection can actually save your life.

If you’d like to learn more or if I can guide you in your journey to better nutrition and a better sex life, please contact me at sandy@steppingstoneswellnessinc.com.

Until next time, have an awesome week!

Sandy O’Shea, CNP
Holistic Nutritionist

 

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  1. This one is for the guys ... but ladies I'm not excluding you :) - Stepping Stones Wellness - […] testosterone is not the only reason for lack of libido in men. Check here for an article I did…

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