What Is Erectile Dysfunction
Most men have at some point experienced problems obtaining or maintaining an erection. This could be due to fatigue, lack of sleep, an increase in stress, illness, etc.
This is normal and is not referred to as the condition called erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction describes a condition where satisfactory sexual intercourse has been impossible during a period of time consisting of several weeks or months.
Let’s take a look at how common erectile dysfunction is world-wide.
How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction World-Wide?
Because very few people talk about erectile dysfunction, you may think that it’s not very common at all.
Men normally don’t talk to their friends or colleagues about their erectile dysfunction, and many men don’t even talk to doctors about it. Therefore, erectile dysfunction often doesn’t get a lot of attention, but rather goes ‘under the radar’.
But it turns out that erectile dysfunction is in fact very common.
In order to get an understanding of how common erectile dysfunction is around the world, the best place to look are the various surveys and studies that already investigate the prevalence of ED on a per country basis.
When looking at these studies as a whole, we find a few interesting observations.
Firstly, a lot of young men (men in their 20’s and 30’s) suffer from erectile dysfunction.
A second observation is that ED is more and more common as men get older.
Looking at these reports and surveys, we can draw the following preliminary conclusions regarding the prevalence of erectile dysfunction world-wide:
- Age group 20-29: 5-10%
- Age group 30-39: 10-30%
- Age group 40-49: 15-40%
- Age group 50-59: 25-50%
- Age group 60-69: 35-70%
- Age group +70: 50-75%
As we see from the numbers above it seems like the average number is somewhere around 20%, or perhaps even above 20%.
And any condition that affects approximately 20% of all men world-wide would be considered very common.
But it should also be said however, that a considerable amount of this information comes from self-reported surveys. Meaning, it is filled out by the men who take the surveys.
What does this mean?
It means that the answers would probably sometimes not be totally honest. It is possible, that some men with erectile dysfunction would state in the survey that they don’t have erectile dysfunction, because they don’t want anyone to know or are embarrassed about it.
In other words, the actual number might be even higher than the approximate 20% figure.
But let’s go with the 20% figure.
20% of all men on planet earth. Do you know how many men that is?
There are approximately 8 billion people on planet earth, and about 4 billion men.
20% of 4 billion men is 800 million men.
In other words, there could be about 800 million men worldwide suffering from erectile dysfunction.
It has also been predicted that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction is likely to increase because our lifestyles continue to get less and less healthy.
As we live less healthy, we get more health issues, and one of them is erectile dysfunction.
What Are The Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction?
This is because our modern lifestyles are often not supportive of functioning well sexually. In other words, the way we live our modern lives often makes it more difficult to get erections and have a normal sexlife.
For instance, many of us don’t do much exercise and are not very active. Our diets also often contain large amounts of processed foods and few useful nutrients.
We tend to stress a lot, we sleep less than we did in the past, we often don’t get a lot of sunshine, etc.
And because our lifestyles are generally not particularly healthy, a number of dysfunctions tend to show up in our bodies over time.
These dysfunctions then often translate into impaired bloodflow. And this is typically the underlying problem that causes men to experience erectile dysfunction.
Let me repeat that: the underlying problem that causes men to experience erectile dysfunction is typically always impaired bloodflow.
There needs to be enough blood flowing to the penis to fill it and build pressure inside it. If there is inadequate bloodflow, the penis will not become engorged. No blood flow or not enough blood flow = no erection.
Another problem that will normally cause erectile dysfunction is when the penis is unable to retain the blood that has already entered it.
Let’s look at the most common factors that can directly or indirectly weaken bloodflow, and therefore can cause erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone supports and controls sexual functions, and it governs the environment in which sex can take place. Testosterone enables sex to happen. Without adequate testosterone, getting erections would be practically impossible.
Low testosterone levels can be caused by several factors, such as old age, lack of exercise, a poor diet, stress, lack of sunshine, pollution, smoking, etc.
Our bones tend to become less dense, muscle tissue starts to decrease in size, blood vessels tend to become stiffer and often clogged with plaque, and our DNA structure becomes shorter.
In short, the body experiences an overall level of decay.
Testosterone levels also normally fall as we age, and you can expect a drop of about 1% every year after turning 30.
This decay brought about by age also impacts the sexual organs and sexual functions.
In particular, the number of cells in the testes normally decrease with age.
Aging may also have a gradual negative effect on the compliance of the tissues in the corpora cavernosa and overall penile health.
Therefore, as we age, we normally find that our sexual functions start working less well, and ED becomes more common.
Lack Of Exercise
For instance, if you eat more calories than you burn, or if you are overweight, you will typically have more ‘bad stuff’ floating around in your blood.
And ‘bad stuff’ refers predominantly to glucose, triglycerides and bad cholesterol. These substances make your blood thicker, which in turn makes it flow more slowly around your body. This will reduce your bloodflow.
In addition, as you have higher levels of these substances in your blood, they will over time get attached to the inner walls of your blood vessels. This will cause plaque build-up which can lead to the condition called atherosclerosis.
This will make your blood vessels narrower, stiffer, and more prone to ruptures. All of this will normally have a negative effect on bloodflow.
But there is more:
This can be damaging:
Because as you have less testosterone and the ratio is out of balance, you will normally be less able to maintain your muscle mass.
As your muscle mass declines, you will be less able to burn the calories you put into your body.
And if you keep eating as you did before, these extra calories will be stored as fat.
And more fat means even less testosterone. And the vicious circle has started.
Increased amounts of body fat also normally lead to an increase in cortisol levels.
And one more thing:
As you are not exercising enough or being out of shape, your body will also normally produce less nitric oxide.
A Poor Diet
If you don’t eat well, you are also significantly more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
If you don’t give your body these nutrients, your body has no chance of functioning optimally.
Because if your body don’t have the right nutrients, it cannot carry out its normal tasks the right way.
As a result, the functions in your body that rely on this hormone, will now work slower or perhaps even stop working completely.
For many men, me included, when I don’t provide my body with the right nutrients, one of the first function to stop working is my ability to get erections.
And if your body doesn’t get the right nutrients over a long period of time, and hence keeps maintaining and building your body with improper building materials, you can cause your body semi-permanent damage.
This can then make it very difficult to function well sexually.
This will thicken your blood, reduce bloodflow and cause similar effects as described above in the exercise section.
A note on sugar and salt:
Consuming too much sugar is also likely to contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Excess sugar can increase your levels of the free radical superoxide, which in turn decreases antixodants. Antixodants protect nitric oxide, therefore excess sugar can reduce your nitric oxide levels.
High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, And Cardiovascular Diseases
As a result, all of them are likely to reduce the free flowing of blood through your body and to your penis.
Although, these illnesses can to some extent be genetically determined, they are also very often associated with the modern lifestyle. Or in other words, a poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.
These conditions can cause damages to the blood vessels and build-up of plaque inside the arteries, called atherosclerosis.
This build-up will sometimes in turn cause big pieces of plaque to be broken off, causing raptures to blood vessels, which can cause them to leak.
Drifting pieces of plaque may also block smaller blood vessels elsewhere in the body.
When atherosclerosis becomes advanced, it often makes your blood vessels narrower and stiffer, and your blood will then have a tougher time to flow through your vessles.
When arteries become harder and stiffer, they also break and leak more easily.
All of the above are likely to have a negative effect your ability to get erections.
A note on diabetes:
The modern human being stresses a lot more than he should. And stress can be your worst enemy to having a normal sex-life.
A little bit of stress won’t hurt you. However, it’s the long-lasting, every-day and constant stress that can wreck havoc with your ability to get erections.
But let’s start from the beginning:
Because stress is actually good. It has a very useful purpose.
It is a mechanism for dealing with a situation that is perceived as potentially dangerous, or requiring special attention.
Let’s say you’re walking down a dark alley at night and you are being followed by someone you think have bad intentions.
In this situation, your brain will normally give you a burst of energy, which will make you more alert, see clearer, hear better, and mobilize extra energy in your muscles in case you need to run or fight.
This stress is extremely useful, as it may save your life or help you avoid harm.
What just happened is that your body channeled attention to those parts of your body that were critical for the dangerous situation, such as hearing, vision, the heart, muscles needed for a quick escape, etc.
At the same time, those parts of the body that were not critical for the dangerous situation, such as the reproductive system, were basically shut down.
In other words, in this stressful situation, it would be very difficult for you to get an erection (because your body gives little attention to your reproductive organs). And the same goes for when you experience persistent and elevated levels of stress over a long period of time.
Therefore, if you experience this constant and elevated level of stress, you are significantly more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Two more items:
Also, elevated levels of stress over a long period of time put additional strain on your heart and may eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, which in turn may lead to decreased flow of blood in the body and the penis.
To learn about my experiences with stress on Truelibido, please go here.
Cigarette smoking can also be a fierce enemy to your erections.
I mentioned already that the body is a very fine-tuned system that can easily be kicked out of balance if we don’t live well.
Introducing 40,000 chemicals into your body that are not supposed to be there (at least not in great quantities) can certainly kick this delicate system out of balance.
This can cause several dysfunctions in the body, including erectile dysfunction.
So what kind of damage can cigarette smoke cause, that can in turn cause erectile dysfunction?
With excess glucose in your blood, your blood gets thicker (moves slower through your body), which can cause atherosclerosis. This can reduce bloodflow, and can also further reduce nitric oxide production.
When you smoke, your body will also often blast out stored fat reserves into your blood that can cause a temporary overload of fat in your blood. This can have have a similar effect to those described above regarding excess glucose.
Another potential problem caused by cigarette smoke is that veins can form inside your existing veins. This is turn can cause impairments in bloodflow.
And let’s not forget:
Several research studies have shown that smokers are about 30% more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than non-smokers.
And a few words on drugs and substance abuse:
Many recreational drugs and other forms of substance abuse can have similar and often even worse effects on your body, than those from smoking.
And a consequence of any one of these can be erectile dysfunction.
Most people consume alcohol. And many people think alcohol is not harmful to the body, or even healthy in moderation.
But alcohol is a toxin. It is a toxin that is not supposed to be in your body in large quantities.
And when it is present in your body in large quantities, it can cause several kinds of damage.
For instance, research studies have shown that long-term excessive alcohol consumption is likely to cause coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries and damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium.
All of these effects are likely to contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction.
Pornography And Masturbation
A key problem with pornography is that it is so incredibly easy to access. You can watch porn anywhere, anytime. All you need is a smartphone or computer, and you can have virtual sex where and when you want.
Another key problem is that advances in technology has made the quality of the porn amazingly real. With every passing day, pornography becomes closer and closer to real life.
Now there is even virtual pornography with smart goggles and sensors, which blurs the lines between reality and imagination. At one point the distinction between real sex and fantasy will probably disappear.
Yet another problem with porn is that it offers never-ending novelty. You can have virtual sex with a new partner every 5 minutes (or every 30 seconds), you can be with a white woman, black, asian, old, young, have a threesome, group sex, sex in public – there are no limits.
As a result, pornography can produce incredible sensations in a man with almost no effort.
The key problem is that when you watch porn and masturbate frequently, your brain produces large amounts of dopamine.
Now you will need more extreme forms of pornography to achieve the same pleasurable sensations as before.
As you consume more extreme forms of porn, your brain gets further desensitized to dopamine, and you need even more extreme forms of porn.
This can cause a vicious cycle that 1) can lead to porn addiction, and also 2) it will make the dopamine reward mechanism in your brain so numb, that it can be almost impossible to get an erection when you are with a real person.
Lack of Sleep
If you don’t sleep enough, you are also in the danger zone for erectile dysfunction.
Sleep is necessary for your body to recover after a day’s use and to restore functions that have been used extensively throughout the day.
And you know the feeling of not getting enough sleep? You get tired, slow, sluggish and fatigued. Which means that several of your bodily functions work much slower than usual.
If sleep deprivation goes on for long enough, bodily functions will not only slow down, but they will shut down. And taken to the extreme, sleep deprivation will lead to death.
You will normally be less interested in sex when you are tired, and you will also normally find it more difficult to get erections. Your body is simply less keen on sex.
To learn about my experiences with sleep, please go here.
Lack Of Sunshine
You may not be aware that you need sunshine to be able to function optimally sexually. But you do.
Let me explain:
When sunshine lands on your skin, your skin is able to produce vitamin D3.
And why is vitamin D3 so important?
You can also take a vitamin D3 supplement, however, I always prefer to get nutrients the natural way, if possible.
But sunshine is not only important for testosterone production. Sunshine is a life-giving force that is essential for our bodies in so many ways.
Your immune system needs sunshine to function optimally, sunshine increases serotonin levels and is necessary for you to be happy. Sunshine also reduces many diseases and cancers, increase fertility, and much more.
To learn about my experiences with sun exposure, please go here.
Significant time spent cycling can also lead to erectile dysfunction.
Sitting on the saddle for long periods of time may cause a lot of pressure on the nerves and arteries going to the penis. This may weaken the functioning of these nerves and arteries, and a possible outcome is erectile dysfunction.
Nerve Or Spinal Cord Damage
This can cause the pathways of communication from the brain to the penis to break down or falter.
As a result, the required signals sent from the brain may not arrive at all, or may arrive in a different form. This may make it more difficult to get erections.
Side Effects From Medications
Many common medications will often cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect.
Psychological factors such as anxiety, guilt, depression, widower syndrome, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, fear of sexual failure, indifference, etc., may also cause erectile dysfunction.
If you suffer from a psychological issue, you will normally not be in an optimal mental state, and will often as a result be preoccupied with negative thoughts. And these negative thoughts can occupy a significant amount of mental space.
As a consequence, you may not have sufficient mental space to focus on sexual activity. Or you may develop an unhealthy relationship to sexuality. And you may therefore suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Research has indicated as many as 20% of all erectile dysfunction cases may be due to psychological factors.
An erection takes place when blood flows into the penis and it fills the penis completely.
Venous leak describes the situation where the blood is not being retained in the penis, but rather quickly flows back out of the penis.
Therefore, even if there is adequate bloodflow to the penis, you are not able to maintain an erection because the blood flows out and away.
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