How much do you know about erectile dysfunction? Answer True or False to each of the following statements:
1. Most men who experience ED are older than 65
True. However, that does not mean younger men are not affected. The actual statistics are a bit hard to nail down, but according to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of 40-year-old men and between 15% and 25% of men age 65 experience ED on a long-term basis. For a greater percentage of men, ED is an occasional occurrence. According to the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which collected data from 2,126 men, ED sometimes affects 6.5% of men ages 20 to 29, 3.8% of men 30 to 39, 8.2% of those 40 to 49, 23.9% of those 50 to 59, 43.7% of men 60 to 69, 60.2% of men 70 to 74, and 77.5% of those 75 and older.
2. Erectile dysfunction is usually a psychological problem, not a physical one.
False. Although ED can be caused by psychological or physical factors or both, in most cases there is a physical (organic) reason. Some of those physical reasons include diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie’s disease, and high blood pressure.
3. A urologist can help with treatment for ED.
True. A urologist is a specialist who handles health issues related to the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive system. He or she is likely best suited to address your concerns about ED.
4. Erectile dysfunction affects men in different ethnic groups about equally.
False. Hispanic/Latino men have about twice the rate of ED as their Caucasian and African American counterparts.
5. Erectile dysfunction is a common challenge among men who have diabetes.
True. Erectile dysfunction affects 50 percent or more of men who have diabetes. That’s because the disease damages the nerves and blood vessels involved in achieving an erection.
6. The most common physical cause of ED is any condition that impacts the blood vessels.
True. Good blood flow is critical for an erection, and vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, can restrict blood flow to the heart, penis, lower extremities, and other sites in the body.
7. Prescription drugs for other medical conditions can cause erectile dysfunction.
True. More than 200 different prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause or contribute to ED and other sexual difficulties. Some of those drugs include antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antiseizure medications, diuretics, muscle relaxants, and antihistamines, among others.
8. A prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) can result in ED.
True. The surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland (prostatectomy) results in erectile dysfunction in a significant percentage of men. The American Cancer Society reports that after standard (not nerve-sparing) prostatectomy, between 65 and 90 percent of men experience ED, depending on their age. Men who undergo nerve-sparing prostatectomy fare better: more than 80 percent were potent 18 months postsurgery, according to one study. However, other studies report a much lower percentage.
9. Smoking has no impact on the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
False. Smoking can damage blood vessels and also restricts blood flow, therefore it can have a negative impact on the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
10. Kidney disease may have a role in erectile dysfunction.
True. Between 21% and 43% of patients who have kidney disease and who are on dialysis or have received a transplant experience ED. Kidney diseases can cause changes in the body’s hormones and have an impact on blood circulation, muscle function, and nerve function, all of which can affect the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
11. Prescription drugs for ED are safe for most men except those who take nitroglycerin or blood thinners.
False. Men who have any of the following health conditions are strongly urged to consult their physician before taking an ED drug: stroke, very low blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, severe heart disease or heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes, liver or kidney disease, hemophilia, stomach ulcers, retinitis pigmentosa, or a blood cell disorder such as leukemia or multiple myeloma.
12. Testosterone deficiency is a common cause of ED.
False. Testosterone deficiency is not a common cause of ED. As many as 70% of chronic ED cases are attributed to diseases (e.g., diabetes, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, alcoholism), and psychological factors may account for up to 20%. That leaves 10% to 20% for testosterone deficiency and other causes, such as spinal injuries, surgery, use of prescription medications, and obesity.
13. If prescription ED drugs don’t work, there isn’t much else a man can do to effectively treat ED.
False. Several other options include use of a penis pump, a penile implant, alprostadil (a synthetic version of a hormone called prostaglandin E), testosterone therapy (if there is a testosterone deficiency), and various supplements and herbal remedies. Counseling may be helpful as well.
14. Herbal supplements can be used to treat ED.
True. But with a caveat. Many of the claims about the ability of herbs to improve sex drive and erections are anecdotal, and the available scientific evidence is limited or questionable. Supplements have been shown to be helpful in some men and not in others. Anyone interested in taking herbal remedies for ED should investigate them fully and consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
15. The main prescription drugs used to treat ED cause little or no side effects
False. Although the majority of men who take any of the three main prescription drugs for ED will experience only mild side effects, about 15% will have headache and flushing may affect 10%. Other symptoms typically affect less than 10% of users and may include heartburn, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stuffy nose, urinary tract infection, diarrhea, abnormal vision, rash, muscle pain, back pain, and sneezing.