Erectile Dysfunction FAQs

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is difficulty having or maintaining an erection that is sufficient for satisfying sexual activity. It can be caused by a variety of underlying problems, such as neurological changes, vascular changes or psychosocial changes. It can affect men of all ages, but it becomes more prevalent with increasing age. ED is common after certain procedures, such as prostatectomy surgery, or hormone suppression therapy. ED can be transient, meaning it will improve, or it can be permanent. Everyone who has ED, experiences it differently. It doesn't have to be a sexual 'death sentence'.

What are the common causes of ED?

  • Physical causes: Conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, hormonal imbalances, surgeries (such as prostatectomy) and certain medications can contribute to ED.
  • Psychological causes: Stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and performance anxiety can all play a role in causing or exacerbating ED.
  • Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy habits like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and lack of exercise can also contribute to ED.

Can ED be prevented?

While ED cannot always be prevented, certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk. Remember the 'causes' are multifactorial, which gives you a lot of areas to work with that are under your control. For example, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, managing stress, and avoiding substance abuse can help promote erectile function. However, how a prostatectomy surgery is performed (nerve sparing or not) is less in your control. Certain levels of cancer increase the risk of developing ED after cancer treatment. It's important not to disparage yourself if you do develop ED.

Regular check-ups with your General Practitioner are important for monitoring overall health and addressing any potential issues promptly.

Can penile pumps help me with my ED?

Penile pumps, also known as vacuum erection devices (VEDs), are non-invasive devices designed to help improve erectile function in men with Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Here's an explanation of how they work:

  1. Device Structure: A penile pump typically consists of a plastic cylinder that fits over the penis, a manual or battery-operated pump, and a constriction ring or band.

  2. Creating Vacuum: To use a penile pump, the cylinder is placed over the flaccid penis. The pump is then used to create a vacuum inside the cylinder, which draws blood into the penis.

  3. Blood Flow: As the vacuum is created, it causes blood vessels in the penis to expand and fill with blood. This increased blood flow helps to engorge the penis, resulting in an erection.

  4. Maintaining Erection: Once an erection is achieved, a constriction ring or band is slid from the cylinder to the base of the penis. This ring helps to maintain the erection by trapping the blood within the penis and preventing it from flowing back too quickly.

  5. Duration of Use: The recommended duration for using a penile pump may vary, but it is typically around 10 to 30 minutes. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the specific device and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

  6. Potential Benefits: Penile pumps can be beneficial for some individuals with ED. They can provide a non-medication, non-surgical option for achieving and maintaining an erection. They can also be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for ED or as an alternative when other treatments are not suitable or preferred.

It's important to note that while penile pumps can be effective for some individuals, they may not be suitable for everyone. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide guidance on the appropriate use of a penile pump and determine if it is a suitable option for your specific situation.

credit: mayoclinic

How does Men's Health Physiotherapy improve ED?

  • There is a strong relationship to the function of the pelvic floor and erectile function. Improving your pelvic floor muscle control/strength: A physiotherapist can help guide you through retaining a group of muscles called your pelvic floor. This group of muscles are strongly involved in helping aid with urinary and faecal incontinence and can be impacted by prostate surgeries. Learn more about the pelvic floor here.
  • Support through prostate cancer treatment and improving post-op outcomes: Physiotherapy intervention is important pre & post prostate cancer surgery to help regain urinary & sexual function to their greatest potential. This often involves pelvic floor muscle training for restoring continence and erectile function, education around lifestyle modification which can positively impact outcomes post operatively. Learn more about prostate cancer here.
  • Men's health physiotherapists can guide you on what medical aids are appropriate for managing your ED. This may include the use of penile pumps, education around PDE5i use, therapeutic home exercise programs (HEP) and accountability.
  • Some ED is complexly linked with a chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). A physiotherapist can work with you to help you gain a good understanding around the causes of your pelvic pain, which may lead to improved sexual function.

How can we help at Sycamore Health?

At Sycamore Health, we can help you treat and manage your pelvic condition. We will listen to your story and find out how your condition is affecting your life and other factors which may impact your recovery. Everyone is different & will require a different treatment approach dependent on each individual and their circumstances - we will make sure you are listened to as an individual and can tailor an intervention to suit you. We will ask questions to help us determine exactly what is going on and have access to real time ultrasound which can be used to assess your strength, endurance and control of your pelvic floor muscles. From there we will work with you to devise a treatment plan to help you get on top of your health.

If you need help with any of this, we would love to help you out!

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