Do you ever ask yourself: How do I know if I have erectile dysfunction?
Are there instances where you are having trouble in keeping or getting an erection during sex? It is highly possible that you have impotence, or commonly known as, erectile dysfunction (ED). The most common symptom is difficulty having an erection. Occasional occurrences of ED are not uncommon and may be no cause of concern, but if it gradually gets worse, there may be an underlying cause affecting your erection. Moreover, it is important to note that there are other symptoms that you should recognize.
How to identify the usual signs and symptoms of ED
It is essential to know the common signs and symptoms of ED—when you have trouble in keeping or getting an erection during sexual activities with your partner. You should recognize the instances when you cannot have an erection during foreplay or sex. It is vital to know that having ED is not the complete absence of an erection, but it is the frequent trouble in having and sustaining one. Additionally, sporadic instances are normal in one’s life but repeated instances are a cause of concern and become a huge problem.
There may be times that you have a decreased energy and interest during sexual activities. A decreased desire for sex is a common sign of ED. Nonetheless, this shrunken sex craving would not always lead to ED. There may be other factors that cause this. Thus, you should consult with a doctor first before deducing that you have ED. Psychological factors may affect your decreased libido. Depression and its medications may reduce one’s sexual desire.
More sexual disorders, such as delayed ejaculation or premature ejaculation, affect ED. This may be caused by several issues, such as low serotonin levels and psychological issues (including depression, sexual repression, lack of confidence, or relationship problems).
Additionally, there are more common risk factors that lead to ED. A risk factor does not necessarily equate to one having erectile dysfunction, but it increases the risk of getting one. Be wary for ED symptoms if you:
- Are overweight
- Have one or more of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Kidney disease
- Spinal cord or nervous system disorders
- Any type of pelvic surgery
- Smoke, use any recreational drug, and/or drink alcohol
- Do not exercise frequently
- Frequently have stress and anxiety
Look out for these ED symptoms. If you experience ED once or twice, it may be normal and not of much concern. However, if these persist frequently for over three months or more or it becomes worrisome that it causes negative psychological factors affecting your sexual relationship, it is best to seek professional help. Visit your doctor to have a definitive diagnosis if it is ED or not and to get help in treating it through medications or mechanical devices.
Get diagnosed by a doctor
Seeking professional help is one of the definitive ways to know if you have ED. Your doctor might perform physical and psychological examinations to identify if you have ED and to rule out any other conditions.
The physical exam may involve having your doctor examine your penis and testicles for any abnormal outgrowth nor signs indicative of an illness. Your doctor may also check if their corresponding nerves work by responding during stimulation. Assessment of hair loss and overgrowth of breasts may also be done such that these may indicate a hormone problem.
Your doctor may also ask about your psychological status. It is important to identify if you have good mental well-being, since emotional issues affect your ability to get and sustain erections. Questions of your emotional history may be asked: if you have depression, if you are under a lot of stress and anxiety, if you have any emotional or mental distress, or if you have problems with your romantic or sexual partner.
An ultrasound may be performed. It entails the use of a transducer that is held over your blood vessels that supply the penis. This creates a video image that determines if you have problems in your blood vessels, causing ED. In some instances, administration of medications into the penis may be done to stimulate blood flow, inducing an erection.
An overnight erection test can be performed. When an average male sleeps, he gets around 3 to 5 erections at night. Your doctor might use this test to determine if you can get an erection. Before you sleep, a device will be placed around your penis. This device would quantify how many erections did you have and gauge how strong each is.
Your doctor may also order various blood and/or urine tests. These tests will be able to check if you have an underlying illness that may cause you to have ED. Systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, prostate cancer, and hormonal problems (particularly low testosterone) are disorders that cause ED. Prostate cancer can be screened through the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. A blood test on the thyroid, which helps your body conduct the flow of sex hormones, may also be done to check if it is normal or not.
You might need to have blood tests to check if you have diabetes, which can cause ED. A fasting blood sugar (FBS) test may be done which takes a blood sample after an overnight fast. An FBS less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is considered normal. Pre-diabetes FBS ranges from 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L), while diabetes scores and FBS of 126 g/dL or higher (7 mmol/L or higher). Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test may be done. This would determine your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months by measuring the percentage of blood sugar in your hemoglobin. Moreover, it does not require you to have an overnight fast. Below 5.7% is the normal level. Between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates prediabetes, while a percentage of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.
Don’t forget, self-recognition of the symptoms of erectile dysfunction and getting medical help are vital in addressing this concern to have a healthy sex life. Having erectile dysfunction does not mean that there will always be a roadblock in the bedroom. With the help of a doctor and with the many treatment options available today, erectile dysfunction is easily treatable and can be overcome.
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