When a man becomes aroused, nerves signal the smooth muscle of the penis to relax. This allows arteries to pump more blood into the chambers inside the muscle. As the penis lengthens, the veins stretch and shut themselves off, which traps blood inside the penis.
After ejaculation, the smooth muscle contracts, the veins loosen their hold so blood can leave the penis, and the erection fades away.
Most erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical condition that affects the nerves or blood vessels responsible for erections.
Causes include diabetes, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer, or the side effects of medication. Psychological causes include anxiety, depression, or stress.
The physician typically interviews the patient about many physical and psychological factors. The patient must be as frank as possible for his physician to make a diagnosis. He should not interpret these questions as intrusive or too personal if he expects to obtain help. These questions are very relevant and important for determining the proper approach. Even when erectile dysfunction has a clear physical cause, relationships and psychological factors can also have an effect.
The physician will take a medical and personal history and may ask about:
In addition, the physician will ask about the patient’s sexual history, which may include:
If appropriate, the physician might also interview the sexual partner. In fact, including the partner in the interview process may help the physician to better decipher underlying causes and in turn better recommend treatment choices.
Our urologists offer a variety of treatments for erectile dysfunction. Treatment is based on the underlying causes of the condition.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
| Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com