Erectile Dysfunction: Common Questions Answered

You’ve likely seen the commercials showing romantic walks on the beach and shared glances over candlelit dinners. Or maybe you’ve heard friends swear by the little blue pill that restored their sex lives. But how much do you really know about erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence, occurs when the penis is unable to become, or stay, erect during sexual activity. Approximately 30 million men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction.

It’s a common problem, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about erectile dysfunction. We’re answering some common questions regarding erectile dysfunction and setting the record straight.

Can inguinal hernia cause erectile dysfunction?


A hernia is unlikely to affect a man’s sexual function since the hernia typically does not interfere with sexual organs or the nerves associated. However, a small percentage of men may experience problems with completion of intercourse after hernia repair surgery.

A man sitting down with a doctor

Can varicocele cause ED?


Varicocele is a medical condition that causes enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. Varicocele can be painful and lead to additional health issues including prostate problems, changes in size of the scrotum, and erectile dysfunction.

Can you have testicular pain with erectile dysfunction?


An erection happens when the blood vessels to the penis and scrotum expand and allow increased blood flow to these regions. When a man achieves an orgasm, the extra blood in the vessels surrounding the penis and testicles flows back to the rest of the body. If a man is unable to achieve orgasm, the blood remains in the genital area for a longer period and can lead to increased pressure, discomfort, and pain. When this happens, it is called epididymal hypertension. Some men with erectile dysfunction can have an erection but never reach orgasm, which can lead to epididymal hypertension and testicular pain.

Can chronic Epididymitis cause erectile dysfunction?


Epididymitis occurs when the coiled tube at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm—called the epididymis—becomes inflamed. Symptoms include swollen, red, or painful testicle(s) or scrotum, discharge from the penis, and blood in the semen. Males of any age can get epididymitis and it is most commonly caused by a sexually transmitted disease, infection, urine in the epididymis or groin injury. Chronic epididymitis happens when symptoms last longer than six weeks or are recurrent and can cause erectile dysfunction.

Can low sperm count cause erectile dysfunction?


Sperm count and erectile dysfunction are not correlated.

Can erectile dysfunction cause infertility?


Erectile dysfunction and infertility are related in that if a man can’t achieve an erection and orgasm, he cannot fertilize an egg and reproduce. However, erectile dysfunction is not tied to sperm quality and count. It is possible to have ED and still produce sperm at a normal concentration. If erectile dysfunction is treated and a man has healthy sperm, it does not cause infertility.

Can a man with ED get a woman pregnant?


It is possible to have ED and still produce healthy sperm at a high quantity. If erectile dysfunction is treated, a man can successfully achieve an erection and engage in sexual intercourse that results in pregnancy.

Do tight pants cause erectile dysfunction?


Causes of erectile dysfunction can be physical and psychological, but what you wear (including tight pants) cannot cause erectile dysfunction.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is caused by a variety of psychological and physical factors. ED can be a symptom of another health problem or a side effect of medication. Complications of erectile dysfunction include a loss of intimacy between you and a partner, an unfulfilled sex life, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and the inability to reproduce. ED is treatable and your doctor can help identify the cause of your erectile dysfunction and recommend a personalized treatment plan for you.

Treatment options for ED include:

    • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe a medication you can take by mouth that will help relax muscles and increase blood flow to the penis. Your doctor may also prescribe testosterone, which has been shown to help with age-related or late-onset hypogonadism.
    • Injections – Your doctor may prescribe a medication you can inject into your penis. An injectable medication has the advantage of creating an automatic erection.
    • Vacuum device – A vacuum device can be placed on the penis and hand-pumped to pull blood into the penis and create an erection.
    • Penile implants – If medications do not help you achieve an erection, you may be a candidate for a penile implant. Penile implants can be inserted through a small incision and are done as an outpatient procedure.

If you’re suffering from ED do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your erectile dysfunction and suggest the best treatment approach for you.



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