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Erectile dysfunction – causes, side effects and treatments at

Friday, March 23, 2018 by

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the persistent difficulty or inability to maintain an erection necessary for sexual intercourse. According to, an erection is caused by increased blood flow to the penis. Issues that occur during erection (such as damage to the penile arteries or a lack of nitrous oxide) can cause a man to experience erectile dysfunction.

Known side effects and risk factors for erectile dysfunction

There are various physical and psychological risk factors for erectile dysfunction.

A man who has any of the following diseases or conditions is more likely to get erectile dysfunction:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Penis, spinal cord, prostate, bladder, or pelvis injuries
  • Prostate cancer treatment injuries
  • Testosterone deficiency
  • Type 2 diabetes

Health-related factors (e.g., smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and not being physically active) and psychological issues (e.g., fear or guilt over sexual performance, anxiety, and depression) have been known to influence a man’s propensity for erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, certain medications can cause erectile dysfunction, including but not limited to:

  • Amphetamines
  • Anticholinergics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety treatments
  • Cancer drugs
  • Drugs that control high blood pressure
  • Heart medication
  • Hormone drugs
  • Opioids
  • Prostate treatment drugs
  • Sleeping pills

The main symptom of erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve an erection successfully. However, as per, a man who suffers from this condition can go through other side effects. These can range from being unable to ejaculate to having difficulty maintaining an erection to complete intercourse. Furthermore, erectile dysfunction can result in numerous emotional side effects, like anxiety and embarrassment.

Body systems harmed by erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction itself has no major bearings on any organs and organ systems. It can, however, significantly impact a man’s quality of life. The stress, low self-esteem, and embarrassment that stems from erectile dysfunction can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s sex life and may cause relationship problems. The female partner may not be able to get pregnant as well.

While erectile dysfunction has a relatively mild physical complication, it can also be indicative of a more serious health problem, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction tends to occur when there are blood supply problems. As such, foods that can help maintain a healthy vascular system can prevent erectile dysfunction. According to, these foods are:

  • Dark chocolate: Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants in dark chocolate that can decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction through numerous ways. First, flavonoids can improve circulation. Second, flavonoids can lower blood pressure, a contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. Third, flavonoids can decrease cholesterol, yet another contributing factor.
  • Green leafy vegetables and beets: The nitrates present in these vegetables open up blood vessels. This, in turn, increases blood flow, making it easier for blood to flow into the penis.
  • Oysters: Not only do oysters encourage the release of sexual hormones in both sexes, but they also deliver high amounts of zinc too. This mineral is necessary for the production of testosterone.
  • Pistachios: These nuts are rich in arginine, a protein that relaxes blood vessels.
  • Tomatoes and pink grapefruit: Lycopene, the phytonutrient responsible for the color of tomatoes and pink grapefruits, is excellent for circulation. When consuming these fruits, it’s recommended that they be eaten with oily foods like avocados to boost the absorption process.
  • Watermelon: Citrulline, a compound present in watermelons, loosen up blood vessels and enhance blood flow similar to erectile dysfunction medications.

Treatments, management plans for erectile dysfunction

The most common treatment for erectile dysfunction is to give oral medication like Viagra or Cialis. Depending on the cause, other types of medication may be given. For example, men who have low testosterone levels will be prescribed testosterone, while men who suffer from high blood pressure will be given medication to remedy that.

Other available options include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Injectable erectile dysfunction medication
  • Medication delivered through suppositories
  • Penile prosthetic implants
  • Prostate massages
  • Vacuum devices (These are meant to pull blood into the penis)
  • Vascular surgery, such as artery reconstruction surgery

Making lifestyle changes can prevent erectile dysfunction. Engaging in regular exercise, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, and maintaining a healthy weight are healthy lifestyle habits that can help men avoid or even reverse this condition. Avoiding stress, alcohol, and illegal drugs can achieve a similar effect.

Where to learn more


Erectile dysfunction is a sexual dysfunction wherein a man is unable to keep or achieve an erection for sexual activity. This condition can arise from physical disorders, medications, or even emotional problems. The health complications that occur as a result of erectile dysfunction are mild, but having it can result in issues such as stress and relationship problems. Moreover, erectile dysfunction can be the side effect of an underlying disease.

For many men, erectile dysfunction is preventable and even reversible. Erectile dysfunction can be avoided through regular exercise and a diet consisting of foods rich in vascular system-boosting nutrients. Limiting or cutting out smoking and alcohol can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction as well.

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