Erectile dysfunction is when a man has difficulty to get or maintain an erection which is firm enough for sex and this can affect their ability to have sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, can affect up to 1 in 5 men which is equivalent to 4.3 million men in the UK. It is a common disorder that not only affects men physically in terms of sexual performance but also mentally too. The sexual partner may also be affected if they are not able to receive satisfactory sexual performance and this commonly puts a strain on relationships. Interestingly, 27% of men said they would rather break up with their partner than talk to their GP about being unable to get an erection! However, it is important to understand what can cause erectile dysfunction as there are ways to effectively reduce the risks and help overcome the problem. One question that naturally (and quite rightly) crosses every sufferer of erectile dysfunction is: Will erectile dysfunction stop on its own?
It is important to understand what can cause erectile dysfunction in the first place as these can potentially help to stop the problem if dealt with appropriately. It is fair to expect that erectile dysfunction will probably not go away on its own because there is usually a cause for erectile dysfunction and it does not typically happen without a reason.
Firstly, it is important to mention that having erectile problems from time to time is not uncommon and in most cases is not something to worry about. Nowadays, living in a fast-paced world with high expectations from work and targets to be met or family problems or money worries can all add to the stress we have imposed on us. Undoubtedly, this stress can quite easily affect a man to even think about sex and engage in sexual intercourse with their partner. Ultimately, stress, anxiety or worry can affect a man’s ability to gain an erection and maintain it since the nervous system is not stimulated enough to cause an erection.
It is a common myth that erectile dysfunction is a ‘normal part of getting older’ and should be accepted. Men should not feel that they need to face up and live with it because it is not necessarily linked with age. More importantly, why should you ignore your biological and psychological needs? Erectile dysfunction, whilst more common in older men over 75 years, can still happen to a man of any age and so it is always worth having a chat with the doctor about it.
However, it is essential to mention that the more serious concerns relating to erectile dysfunction would be any underlying causes – and these tend to be more complicated health conditions. Examples include diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart diseases such as heart attacks. The link between heart diseases and erectile dysfunction is that the blood supply going to the penis is reduced. The reduced blood supply means that the penis cannot erect sufficiently and maintain it too, as it needs a sufficient amount of blood to do so. Diabetes has the same effect as heart disease but in addition a neurological impact too. The nerves that usually cause penile muscles to contract when stimulated are also affected in diabetes, which means the erection does not happen. Treatment of these conditions can help to reduce the likelihood of erectile dysfunction but probably will not go away on its own if the conditions are left untreated.
Some side effects of medication are known to cause erectile dysfunction. For example, beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure and anti-depressants for depression can commonly cause erectile dysfunction. It is always worth considering discussing with the doctor to switch to another medicine if possible to avoid having this unwanted side effect.
The way we live our life has a great impact on our well-being and certainly for a man, his ability to get and maintain an erection. There are several factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction and probably one of the most commonly known one is alcohol consumption. Long-term, over-consumption of alcohol can actually damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis, therefore, making it difficult to get an erection. The current guidelines for how much men should drink alcohol in a week is up to 14 units. Smoking also damages the blood vessels and can contribute to atherosclerosis which is a process where hardened plaques can form in the blood vessels and lead to blood clots. This can cause strokes and heart attacks since the blood supply is interrupted– which is also a cause for erectile dysfunction.
Being overweight can also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Whilst there is no direct link between obesity and erectile dysfunction, studies have shown that overweight and obese men have a much higher rate of erectile dysfunction than those with healthier weight and the risk is increased by 30% – 90%. This is most likely due to the positive link between obesity and cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases and diabetes which all contribute to erectile dysfunction.
The answer is probably not.
It all depends on what may be causing it and whether you could modify the causes to help stop erectile dysfunction. Simple changes in the lifestyle such as cutting back on alcohol, stopping smoking, more exercise and eating healthy can help the erection problem to go away. Making these lifestyle changes and seeing the impact it could possibly have would certainly be a positive way to go. In an Australian study carried out on 810 men with erectile dysfunction, almost a third of the men were able to overcome their problem of erectile dysfunction simply by modifying their lifestyle and adjusting it to become a healthier one.
If the cause of erectile dysfunction is due to mental – health-related problems such as stress, anxiety or depression rather than physical diseases, it is worth having a discussion about the issues with a doctor, pharmacist or even a counsellor who may be able to help. Dealing with problems, talking through them and trying to find ways to solve them can often have a positive impact and help with improving erectile function. It is always a good option to use the support of family and friends in times of need and we should never be afraid to search for that. If problems were left alone and not dealt with appropriately, erectile dysfunction would certainly not stop on its own and could potentially add more stress above everything else.
Sometimes, making little changes can have a positive effect and advice can be sought from any health care provider in the community such as a pharmacy. But it is important to realise that there is a chance it can come back if there is a more serious, underlying cause. If you have generally good health and are suffering from erectile dysfunction, it is always worth a visit to the doctor to check that there is no underlying condition that may be causing it. In this case, erectile dysfunction will certainly not stop as easily on its own and most likely treatment would be given to help with getting and maintaining an erection.
So the common question of ‘will erectile dysfunction stop on its own?’ should really change to ‘what can I do to try and eliminate erectile dysfunction?’ since there are lifestyle changes that can be made to help with treating the disorder – as long as any serious underlying condition is ruled out by the doctor.