Erectile dysfunction is when the man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough to have sexual intercourse.  It is not uncommon to deal with erectile dysfunction once in a while but if it’s frequent, it could be due to health or other issues. 

An erection actually begins in the brain.  The erectile tissue runs in two columns along the penis and is made up of muscle, tissue and arteries.  Something specific like a thought or certain other things could send a message to the blood vessels in the penis and allow the arteries in the penis to let more blood in and a membrane at the base of the penis to restrict blood from exiting the penis and cause the veins to close up.  The penis will thus harden, expand and stand erect causing an erection in order to penetrate the female vagina.  At the climax of sexual arousal, the muscles in the penis are given signals to contract strongly, forcing the semen out of the penis.  The penis will later become soft or flaccid again when less blood goes in, the membrane relaxes and the veins open up.

If you have trouble getting an erection or keeping an erection or have decreased sexual desire, these may be symptoms of erectile dysfunction. 

Causes of erectile dysfunction include increasing age, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, surgeries or injuries, abnormalities in the reproductive tract, certain medications, obesity, hormone imbalances, sleep disorders, smoking tobacco and drinking excessive alcohol as well as psychological causes like stress, depression, anxiety, insecurity, relationship issues or other things.

Does erectile dysfunction affect fertility

If erection cannot be achieved due to erectile dysfunction, it could, in turn, be difficult to introduce sperm into the woman’s uterus for fertilization by sexual intercourse.  Erectile dysfunction also can reduce the number of times a couple has sex which can decrease the chances of conception.  Fertility could also be affected by the severity of erectile dysfunction. 

Fertility could be affected by erectile dysfunction if it is due to hormonal imbalances because this could affect sperm production.  Diabetes could affect nerves and blood vessels in turn causing erectile dysfunction, and having diabetes could decrease the quantity and quality of the sperm. 

Erectile dysfunction could also cause feelings of insecurity or embarrassment in those men which in turn, may prevent them from seeing a doctor to find out the root cause and get proper treatment.  Since erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of an underlying condition, it is important to seek medical help. 

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t actually lower sperm count although underlying medical conditions could cause low sperm count along with erectile dysfunction.  So, every man that has erectile dysfunction is not necessarily infertile and it could be a symptom of infertility.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction

First, seek the help of your doctor to find what is actually the underlying cause of your erectile dysfunction.

Sometimes, it could be just because of lifestyle issues like diet, exercise, drinking excessive alcohol, smoking, getting enough sleep, obesity or other such factors.  Making a change in your lifestyle could solve the issue with erectile dysfunction.  Increasing sexual stimulation could also improve issues with erection.

Working with your doctor on managing chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease or other conditions could also solve any issues with erectile dysfunction. 

The doctor could also prescribe medications to treat erectile dysfunction or might change certain medications you are already taking if they feel it is causing erectile dysfunction.  Planning sexual activity around the time the medication takes effect and when the female is ovulating, could help in conception.  If it is due to hormonal issues, testosterone therapy could help with erectile dysfunction but it could also negatively impact fertility because it could affect levels of other hormones and affect sperm production.

If you are dealing with psychological issues, it might help to talk to a counsellor to learn how to deal or resolve issues with stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues or other such things.  They could also look into couples therapy to help talk through issues with a counsellor. 

Vacuum erection devices could physically cause an erection by increasing blood flow in the penis.  Also surgical penile implants which are implanted right into the penis by manually inflating it. 

However, there are other options available for successful conception like assisted reproductive technologies like intrauterine insemination (IUI) where the sperm is collected and transferred directly into the uterus using a catheter.  Invitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure where the egg and sperm are collected and fertilized in a laboratory setting with the resulting embryo being transferred back into the uterus for implantation and possible conception.  The doctor could also collect sperm directly from the testicles.In conclusion, seeking your doctor’s help in treating erectile dysfunction, communicating openly with your partner about what you are dealing with, making some lifestyle changes and talking to a counsellor could help deal with erectile dysfunction and it would still be possible for your partner to have a successful pregnancy.  Speak to the experts at Xenith Advanced Fertility centre if you feel you are dealing with erectile dysfunction and their valuable advice could help you on your journey to overcome issues with erectile dysfunction and also have children.