How is Erection Sustained?

The pressure from the expanding penis compresses the veins (blood vessels that drain the blood out of the penis) in the tunica albuginea, helping to trap the blood in the corpora cavernosa, thereby sustaining erection.

Erection is reversed when cGMP levels in the corpora cavernosa fall, causing the smooth muscles of the corpora cavernosa to contract, stopping the inflow of blood and opening veins that drain blood away from the penis. The levels of the cGMP in the corpora cavernosa fall because it is destroyed by an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5).

What are some of the risk factors for erectile dysfunction?

The common risk factors for ED include the following:

  • Advanced age
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High cholesterol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Recreational drug use
  • Depression or other psychiatric diseases