1) What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve and maintain a penile erection of sufficient rigidity to permit satisfactory sexual activity for at least 3 months. The older term "impotence" is no longer utilized.
2) Are there different kinds of ED?
The majority of erectile dysfunction is related to "organic" causes, which means that there is a physical cause the effects a man's ability to have and hold onto an erection until completing sexual activity. Over 80% of erectile dysfunction falls into this category, and in over 90% of men seeking treatment for ED, an underlying organic cause or factor contributing to ED is identified.
For the remainder of men, psychological or situational causes result in the inability to "get and keep" an erection until done having sex. Psychological ED generally respond well to the "ED pills", and in many cases, once the underlying psychological causes are addressed, erectile function normalizes.
It is important to note that for almost all men, having ED causes stress, anxiety, and may contribute to depression symptoms. A man's mental health state is often negatively affected by ED, and improved by ED treatment.
3) What are common causes of erectile dysfunction?
The same things that are bad for you heart are bad for your erection. Underlying risk factors associated with ED are common to cardiovascular disease in general, and include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and lipids, diabetes, and smoking. At times, especially in younger men, there will be no symptoms of heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure present but the ED evaluation by your doctor will identify these potentially life-threatening conditions. Treatment of identified cardiac risk factors (i.e. smoking cessation, blood pressure or diabetes) should be started at the same time as ED treatment in most cases. For these men, ED can literally save their lives. Not only will they have better erections, but also the chance at a longer, healthier life.
The list of causes of ED is extensive. Depression, lack of exercise, and obesity also contribute to ED, as do trauma or back injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and other diseases.
4) Can prescription medications, used properly, still cause ED?
The list of medications that cause ED is extensive. Common types of medications that cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction include most blood pressure medications (most types including "water pills" and beta blockers, almost all antidepressants, as well as narcotic and non-narcotic pain medication including opiates, psychiatric medications, and some antihistamines. A comprehensive list may be found at the National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004024.htm. It is important to note that these medications are often live-saving in the longer term, and it is not advisable in most cases to stop using them because of ED side-effects. A better approach is to maintain these safe and important treatments, and treat the resultant ED.
5) Can recreational substances or drugs cause erectile dysfunction?
Substances or drugs that can cause or lead to ED include recreational and frequently abused drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine, as well as abuse of opiates and methadone.
6) How do I know if I have ED?
In many cases, there is a slow decline in the ability to get and maintain an erection. Again, 40% of men over 40 have ED, and the more risk factors that a man has that contribute to erectile dysfunction, the more likely that sexual function will be compromised.
There is a widely use patient questionnaire (5 questions) that can be used at home, or at your health care providers office, called the SHIM or Sexual Health Inventory for Men. It is also known as the IIEF-5 (the short version of the International Index of Erectile Function).
7) What can you do if you have ED?
The most important thing to consider is the fact that for almost all cases of ED, there are safe and effective treatments available. In almost all parts of the world, these are accessible through your health care provider only.
Although it may be uncomfortable to discuss this with your doctor, treating ED greatly improves a man's quality of life, both physically and mentally. All health care practitioners should be familiar with ED can either treat the ED or refer to a colleague who has special expertise in the area.
There is a second, and in many cases, more important reason to discuss ED with your doctor. ED may save your life, as seen above.
8. What about internet availability of ED medications?
For any product, if there is a market and money to be made, there is the potential for criminal enterprises to establish their presence. Internet offers of cheap ED pills are simply not safe. The Pharmaceutical Security Institute reports that 37% of all fake medicines seized are ED drugs. ED drugs are offered for sale via thousands of fake online pharmacies without prescription requirements, and the danger is not only in the fact that these counterfeit medications may not work, but real danger of buying these drugs from a non-approved pharmacy is that there is a very good chance they will not just be counterfeit, but poison.
9) What is actually being sold on-line as ED medication?
Several recent studies have shown that ED drugs sold on-line are laced with heavy metals, toxins, and carcinogenic materials. Researchers led by Dr Kewon Min (Korea)reported at the recent 105th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association, "A lot of patients order their drugs online these days, even when they have seen a physician and have a prescription," he said. "They think they can get quality ED drugs at good prices, but our results show that there can be major risks." They found 26 percent of the samples contained heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and chrome, in addition to nonmetallic toxins like polychlorinated biphenyls and benzopyrenes. Thirty-seven percent of the samples contained no active ingredient at all. Side effects from drug products purchased online, including death, have been documented worldwide. ED medications are expensive and lead to men seeking cheaper alternatives that do not work and are not safe. Biopharmcor's vision of providing cheaper generic medications that are safe and as effective as current equivalent medications addresses the barrier of cost to quality ED treatment.
10) Where can I find out more about erectile dysfunction in general?
The Biopharmcor website offers accompanying slide presentations, as well other FAQ sections that are ED focussed. External non-industry sponsored websites specific to ED may be found at www.sexhealthmatters.org which is overseen by the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, http://www.issm.info/education-for-all/sexual-health-qa/ under the care of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, or by the European Society for Sexual Medicine http://www.essm.org/society/medpubinf/erectiledysfunction.html .