Psychological erectile dysfunction (ED) may be increasing, and the reason could have something to do with geography. The US Department of Veterans Affairs recently revealed that its spending for ED drugs has nearly tripled over the past six years. That’s because more and more veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These issues often are associated with psychological erectile dysfunction.
Men in general do not readily talk about erectile dysfunction, even with their doctors. Among veterans coming back home from Iraq and Afghanistan, erectile dysfunction can be especially difficult to discuss, considering the tremendous emotional trauma many of the men have already experienced.
What is psychological erectile dysfunction?
Psychological erectile dysfunction is an inability to achieve and maintain an erection suitable for sexual relations because of an underlying emotional cause. About 10 to 20 percent of all cases of erectile dysfunction are believed to have psychological causes. The most common causes of psychological erectile dysfunction are depression, stress, anxiety, guilt, and low self-esteem.
As a growing number of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, erectile dysfunction associated with PTSD is a growing concern. The VA estimates that 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have PTSD. The numbers may be even higher. The VA also reported that more than 250,000 veterans from these wars sought help for PTSD from October 2011 through June 2012 at VA facilities.
A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine noted that “a significant proportion of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans have SD [sexual dysfunction] and that the risk factors differ between younger and older veterans.” PTSD and high blood pressure were important risk factors among both younger and older veterans. A risk factor seen in younger vets was income, while being African American was a risk factor among older veterans.
Besides psychological erectile dysfunction, other causes of ED include drugs and medications, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer treatments, blunt trauma, diabetes, low testosterone, and various environmental factors.
ED treatment can take many forms. When dealing with psychological erectile dysfunction, counseling is strongly recommended. However, counseling should be accompanied by other erectile dysfunction treatment options as well. These may include pills and drugs for erectile dysfunction (e.g., Viagra, Levitra and other similar drugs), an ED pump (penis pumps), erectile dysfunction remedies (e.g., natural ED remedies), and penile injections, among other choices.
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at risk for erectile dysfunction and PTSD. These men, and any man who suffers with erectile dysfunction, should seek professional help. Erectile dysfunction can be treated successfully, and there are many treatment options available.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Hosain GM et al. Sexual dysfunction among male veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: prevalence and correlates. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2013 Feb; 10(2): 516-23