Erectile dysfunction (ED) is characterised by reduced rigidity and/or duration of erections. It can therefore impact heavily on a man’s satisfaction with his sex life, as well as that of his partner’s.
The penis contains long cylinders of erectile tissue (corpora cavernosa), which can expand with increased blood flow. These cylinders are surrounded by fibrous tissue (tunica albuginea). When enough blood flows into the erectile cylinders, the fibrous tissue prevents further expansion but creates the rigidity of an erection. Normal erections require sexual arousal, nerve stimulation of the erectile tissue, dilation of the inflowing blood vessels of the penis, and prevention of out flowing blood.
ED can occur at any age from puberty onwards, but is most commonly associated with ageing. There are various causes of ED, and whilst further investigation into the cause is sometimes required, ED is now usually treated once an initial assessment has been made.
One of the most common causes of ED is atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the small arteries supplying the penis, which is often also present in arteries elsewhere in the body, such as the coronary arteries (supplying the heart muscle). This is more common in patients with conditions such as Diabetes. It is important to note that in some patients, ED may therefore represent a warning sign of cardiovascular disease, which may require further assessment by the man’s GP or cardiologist.
Treatment of ED has been revolutionised by the discovery of certain blood vessel-dilating drugs, which are often highly effective. However, in some instances, particularly after local treatment for prostate cancer, these medications fail to improve erections sufficiently. Alternatives treatments, which can achieve excellent results, may then be required. These include intracavernous (into the erectile tissue) injections (of blood vessel-dilating medication), vacuum pump devices and insertion of an inflatable penile prosthesis.
Our urologists and nursing staff are trained and experienced in all treatments for ED. In addition to administering treatment, our staff provide patients with detailed and practical education for each treatment option.