What Is Erectile Dysfunction? How It Affects Your Body

The key to a healthy erection: good circulation and blood flow.

Even though it has become more of a mainstream issue, only 5% of men with erectile dysfunction seek medical help. Erectile dysfunction can be linked to diabetes and high blood pressure, and can even be a warning sign of other serious problems. There is no reason to be embarrased about seeking help for erectile dysfunction. 

In this video, Dr. Paul Knoepflmacher answers the question "what is erectile dysfunction", and explains how erectile dysfunction affects your body. Erections are a result of signals from the brain, the right levels of testosterone and healthy blood vessels in the penis. If something affects any of these factors, erectile dysfunction can result. The key to an erection is good circulation and blood flow. 

Inside the penis are two long chambers made up of spongy muscle tissue called the corpora cavernosa. During arousal, nerve signals from the brain cause these muscles to relax. Blood flows in at about seven times the normal amount, inflating the chambers and creating an erection. Continued arousal maintains the higher rate of blood flow, keeping the erection firm.

During orgasm, sperm is released from the testicles and travels through tubes called the vas deferens. It is mixed with fluid from the prostate and other glands and becomes semen. This fluid travels out of the body through the urethra. When sexual arousal passes, the excess blood drains out of the chambers and the penis returns to its non-erect size.

Many men over the age of 40 experience problems with erectile dysfunction, but it can occur at any age. Erectile dysfunction may be related to low levels of testosterone. It may be uncomfortable to talk about erectile dysfunction. One way to start a conversation is by telling your doctor that you are having physical problems in the bedroom. 

Erectile dysfunction can happen at any age, but it is not a normal part of aging. There could be a serious reason for why you are experiencing this problem, and it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor. Watch our segment on the causes of erectile dysfunction to learn more. 

Paul Knoepflmacher, MD

This video features Paul Knoepflmacher, MD. Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.

Duration: 2:23. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
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