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Erectile Dysfunction

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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

The penis is made up of spongy tissue that holds blood. When the penis is flaccid (soft), blood flows in and out of the tissue. During sexual excitement, extra blood flows into the tissue. The extra blood makes the tissue swell so the penis becomes erect (rigid) and firm enough for intercourse.

Physical or psychological problems can prevent the penis from becoming erect or staying erect.  This is known as erectile dysfunction.  While this topic may be sensitive, our highly skilled team is available to support you.

If you have trouble getting or keeping an erection, you have lots of company. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a problem getting an erection firm enough or keeping it long enough for intercourse. The problem can happen to any man at any age. But health problems that can lead to ED become more common as a man ages. Up to half of men over age 40 experience ED at some point.

Causes of ED

ED can have many causes. Most are physical. Some are emotional issues. Often, a combination of causes is involved. Causes of ED may include:

  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or depression.
  • Smoking tobacco or marijuana.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Side effects of medications.
  • Injury to nerves or blood vessels.
  • Emotional issues such as stress or relationship problems.


ED Can Be Treated

Prescription medications for ED are now available. They help many men who try them. Depending upon the cause of the ED, though, medications may not be enough. In these cases, other treatment options are available. These include erectile aids and surgery. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about the treatment that is right for you. And new treatments for ED are being studied. No matter what the treatment you decide on, stay in touch with your doctor. If your symptoms persist, he or she may be able to adjust your current treatment or try something new.

Many men feel embarrassed to talk to a doctor about ED. This common problem can be treated, but only if your doctor knows about it. Your doctor will likely ask you questions about your ED. Whether you’re asked or not, tell your doctor anything that might help your doctor understand the problem. Your doctor may do an exam and may run some tests to help find the cause of your ED.

A Simple Exam

Your provider will complete a comprehensive health evaluation, which may include a physical exam of your penis, scrotum, and testicles. Tell your provider about all of the medications you take, including prescribed and over-the-counter medications, as well as any herbs or supplements.

You May Have Some Tests

Your doctor may recommend some or all of these tests:

  • Blood tests.
  • An ultrasound.
  • A rectal examination.
  • Any additional tests that may be required.  


Your Treatment Plan

Your provider will recommend treatment options based upon your exam and clinical findings. You will work with your provider to find the options that meet your sexual health goals. These may include:

  • Medications.
  • Injections.
  • Vacuum Assisted Device.
  • Surgery.
  • Counseling.
Erectile Dysfunction Education by The Wisconsin Institute of Urology Urologists Team serves patients in Neenah, Oshkosh, Fond Du Lac, New London, Shawano, & Waupaca, in Northeast Wisconsin

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