Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. Chronic erectile dysfunction affects approximately 5 percent of men in their 40s and 15 to 25 percent of men over the age of 65. Transient erectile dysfunction can affect up to 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70.
Under normal physiological conditions, neurotransmitters in the brain initiate an erection by sending messages to the vascular (blood) system to increase blood flow to the penis. The corpora cavernosa (tubes of connective tissue) and erectile tissue in the penis expand as a result of the increased blood flow and pressure. Following ejaculation, pressure in the penis decreases to reduce blood flow and allow the penis to resume its normal shape.
Patients suffering from erectile dysfunction often experience negative psychological side effects. They may have low self esteem or feel inadequate as a sexual partner. Partners of patients suffering from erectile dysfunction may also feel the emotional strain of the diagnosis.
Specific laboratory tests may be performed to determine the cause of erectile dysfunction including:
Treatment of erectile dysfunction begins with non-surgical procedures. If a patient suffers from erectile dysfunction because of a psychological problem, they often have success through visits with sex therapists. Medication for erectile dysfunction caused by physiological conditions can include oral enzyme inhibitors such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, self-injected medication, urethral suppositories or vacuum erection devices.
Surgical treatment for erectile dysfunction may include penile implants or vascular reconstructive surgery.
Vascular reconstructive surgery can be performed to improve blood flow to the penis. Penile implantation is a surgical procedure where malleable or inflatable rods are inserted into the penis. There are three forms of penile prostheses: semi-rigid prostheses, inflatable prostheses and self-contained prostheses.
Board-certified urologists staff The Men’s Clinic at UCLA and you can be assured you are getting an experienced physician performing your evaluation and procedure in a relaxed and comfortable environment. For more information and to schedule an appointment, please call the UCLA Urology Appointment line at (310) 794-7700.