When you’re under stress, and as you age, you might find it difficult to attain and maintain an erection. Though having an occasional bout of erectile dysfunction (ED) isn’t cause for concern, if it’s happening regularly, you should consult with a doctor to find out why.
At Enrich Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, our expert nurse practitioners Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C understand how important regular erections are for men’s emotional and physical health. Here, they discuss the most common causes behind ED, and how to get your intimate life back on track again.
Erections are complex
You might not have given much thought to erections when you were younger, because they happened so spontaneously. But an erection is a complex physiological process that involves your:
- Blood vessels
When you come to Enrich Family Practice with ED, we take a complete medical history, including any medications you’re on, and conduct a physical examination. We want to either identify or rule out any underlying conditions that could be causing or contributing to your ED, including diabetes. We then custom-design therapies to help you feel like yourself again.
Healthy erections start with a healthy body. To help your body achieve optimal health, we might recommend:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Drinking less alcohol
- Eating a whole-foods diet
- Avoiding processed foods
- Doing cardio exercise
- Doing weight-bearing exercise
- Developing better sleep hygiene
If you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, that’s contributing to your ED, we may prescribe medications along with the lifestyle changes.
The little blue (etc.) pills
The shaft of your penis is made up of two chambers called the corpora cavernosa, which are shaped like long cylinders and are filled with blood vessels and arteries. When you’re sexually aroused, your brain sends messages via your nerves to the arteries in your penis, so that they relax and let more blood flow into the shaft. At the same time, the veins in the corpora cavernosa close up, trapping the blood, expanding the penis, and causing an erection.
If you’re not able to achieve an erection, your muscles might not be relaxed enough to allow the arteries to expand. Viagra and other medications for ED work by relaxing your muscles, so that your arteries open up, and by increasing blood circulation to your penis.
Though medications can help you achieve an erection, they take spontaneity out of intimacy. The pills take about 15-30 minutes to work. The erections they cause can last anywhere from 4-36 hours.
Emotions are an important part of erections, too. Even something as simple as trying to get pregnant could cause stress that leads to ED.
If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, or if you’re under stress at work or in your relationship, you may benefit from counseling. We can refer you to a counselor in the area so you can get the help you need to feel better.
After age 30, you produce about 1% less testosterone per year. Testosterone (T) is the hormone that gives you distinctly male characteristics, such as facial hair, a low voice, and increased muscle mass. Low T, also known as hypogonadism, is associated with a range of symptoms, including:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
Almost half of men over age 45 years have low T. If you’re having trouble with ED, particularly if you have other symptoms of low T, you may benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Our nurse practitioners determine the right dose of T for you based on a blood test.
In most cases, we recommend bioidentical HRT (BHRT) to restore your T levels. The advantage of BHRT over HRT is that the testosterone is synthesized from plants to mimic the chemical structure of human hormones. Your body recognizes the BHRT as identical to your own hormones, which reduces the risk of side effects.
Our nurses recommend BHRT in pellet form. The pellets are custom-compounded for you at a pharmacy. We insert the pellet in your hip during a brief, in-office procedure that requires one tiny incision, but no anesthesia or stitches.
In about 10 days, your BHRT restores your T levels to normal. You notice changes in the way you feel, including:
- More energy
- Increased libido
- Better, longer-lasting erections
The benefits continue as your hormones stabilize. You should also notice better fat and muscle distribution, and an improvement of other low-T symptoms. We replace your pellet every nine months to help you maintain your benefits.
Don’t suffer from ED anymore. Find out what’s thrown your love life off track and get the solution at Enrich Family Practice. Contact us for hormone replacement therapy by phone or online message form.