Erectile dysfunction has many possible causes. Some of these are psychological. Some are physical. Often, a combination of both psychological and physical factor contribute to the condition, and should be addressed. In this article, we focus specifically on one physical cause of erectile dysfunction – venous leak.
What is Venous Leak?
To maintain an erection, your penis must store the blood that flows into it, during arousal. If your veins are unable to hold the blood in the penile tissue, your erection will fail. This is known as a “venous leak,” also sometimes known as venogenic erectile dysfunction or penile venous insufficiency. Basically, it’s the veins leaking blood back into the body, away from the penis, during an erection.
What Causes Venous Leak?
There are several different causes of venous leak. These include:
- Vascular damage
- Vascular disease
- Peyronie’s disease
- Some nerve conditions
- Severe anxiety
How is a Venous Leak Diagnosed?
Venous leak is often diagnosed using duplex ultrasound or digital subtraction cavernosography, to monitor the bloodflow in the penis tissues, as well as check for atherosclerosis or tissue scarring. An intracavernosal injection of a vasoactive agent is used, to simulate arousal, during the testing process.
However, in addition to this physical test, the patient should also be evaluated by a mental health professional, to determine if their are any psychological issue contributing to the erectile dysfunction.
How is Venous Leak Treated?
As with any disease, venous leak treatment is determined by the root cause of the problem. If it is found that psychological issues are a significant factor in the condition, mental health counselling to address issues, such as severe anxiety, can be sought.
Surgery for venous leak is an option as well; however, it has historically not been very successful. Success rates for venous leak surgery range between 20 and 30 percent. These cases are most often successful when the patient has “pure” venous leak – where no arterial disease is present and there are no psychological issues exacerbating the condition. In addition, the leak must be isolated to a specific spot. Venous leak from multiple sites decreases the success rate of surgery.
Other treatment methods include improving testosterone, penile implants and a variety of other methods, depending on the cause of the leak(s). Jelqing can sometimes be of help, forcing oxygen-enriched blood into the penis, to improve penile health. Kegels (and reverse Kegels) also should be a part of everyone’s male enhancement routine, to ensure strong and healthy pelvic floor muscles.
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