Erectile dysfunction is unarguably a major source of worry to not only the older men but also the younger generation. Most men wish to be sexually active as long as they live but erectile dysfunction is one of the commonest common types of male sexual anomalies.
When a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection, he is said to have erectile dysfunction commonly called ED in the medical parlance. It is explained as the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s also sometimes referred to as impotence.
Apart from a mere sexual weakness, ED can also be a sign of health problems. Experiencing a persistent erection difficulty can cause stress, affect a man’s poise, embarrassment and can lead to relationship problems.
ED can be a total inability to achieve an erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. It is the opposite of a normal erection, which is the result of increased blood flow into the penis.
Although ED becomes more common as a man gets older, it’s important to stress that it’s not a natural part of aging. However, not all male sexual problems are caused by ED.
A Lagos based gynaecologist and obstetrician, Theophilus Amadi, said many men experience erectile difficulty during times of stress. He said it could be a sign of health problems that need treatment, adding that it could also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.
The medical doctor said it could mean the individual’s blood vessels are clogged, or living with a damaged nerve from diabetes. He warned that if the patient doesn’t seek early treatment from a professional, the problems would go on and degenerate and escalate to other health problems.
Allaying patients’ fear, however, the expert said treating the underlying condition is sometimes enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. He said there were a lot of misinformation about the causes and treatments of erectile dysfunction (ED), while linking the gap in information and myths to people seeking information from quacks.
Although the risk of ED increases with age, as it may become more difficult to get an erection, Amadi said that doesn’t necessarily mean one will develop ED.
“In general, the healthier you are, the better your sexual function. This means that lifestyle choices may be a main contributing factor for ED in younger men,” he stated.
Symptoms of ED
You may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly have: trouble getting an erection; difficulty maintaining an erection during sexual activities and reduced interest in sex. Other sexual disorders related to ED include: premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation and anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after ample stimulation
Dr. Amadi advised anyone having any of these symptoms to see his or her doctor, especially if they have lasted for two or more months. He said only a specialist could determine if your sexual disorder is caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Causes of condition
There are many possible causes for ED, and they can include both emotional and physical disorders. Some common causes are: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, damage from cancer or surgery, obesity or being overweight and increased age. Others are: stress, anxiety, relationship problems, drug use, alcohol use, nerve disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, hormone problems
Experts have said that ED could occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. For example, the penile arteries may be too damaged to open properly and allow blood in.
Depression: Sexual excitement starts in the head and works its way down. Depression can dampens desire and can lead to erectile dysfunction. Unluckily for many people, many of the drugs used to treat depression can also suppress sex drive and make it harder to get an erection, and they can cause a delay in orgasm.
Medications: It has been revealed that a long list of common drugs can cause ED, including certain blood pressure drugs, pain medications, and antidepressants. Hard drugs, like amphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana can cause sexual problems in men, too.
Stress: Stress can affect many different parts of the body, including the nether region. Dealing with stress by making lifestyle changes that promote well-being and relaxation, such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, helps a lot.
Alcohol: According to experts, having a few drinks to get in the mood could be okay, but overindulging could make it harder to start or even finish the act. Study has shown that heavy alcohol use can interfere with erections, but the effects are usually temporary.
Anger: Anger can dampen sex activity in men and it must be dealt with before having intercourse. It is difficult or impossible to feel romantic when you’re raging, whether your anger is directed at your partner or not. Unexpressed anger or improperly expressed anger can contribute to performance problems in the bedroom.
Obese: Men have lower levels of the male hormone testosterone, which is important for sexual desire and producing an erection. Being overweight is also linked to high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, which can reduce blood flow to the male sex organ.
Anxiety: Once you are upset that you won’t perform in the bedroom can make it harder for you to actually perform. Anxiety from other parts of life can also spill over into the bedroom. Erection has to do with sending and receiving signals in the brain. When worries are tied up with making love, your interest in sex can take a nosedive. A negative self-image can elicit worry not only about how you look, but also how well you’re going to perform in bed. That performance anxiety can make you too anxious to even attempt sex.
On a general note, many different health conditions not highlighted above, including prostrate or bladder problems can affect the nerves, muscles, or blood flow that is needed to have a proper erection.
The specialist said doctors usually run through the patient’s health history. And conduct tests to determine if his or her symptoms are caused by an underlying condition.
“You should expect a physical exam where your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, check your blood pressure, and examine your testicles and penis. They may also recommend a rectal exam to check your prostate. Additionally, you may need blood or urine tests to rule out other conditions,” he said.
According to experts, treatment for ED will depend on the underlying cause. While looking for a solution, it can be embarrassing to talk to your doctor about your sex life, but it is the best way to get treated and get back to being intimate with your partner.
You may also need to use a combination of treatments, including medication, lifestyle changes, or therapy. Your doctor may prescribe several medications to help manage your symptoms of ED.
The following medications stimulate blood flow to your penis to help treat ED: alprostadil (Caverject), avanafil (Stendra), sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), testosterone (Androderm) and vardenafil (Levitra).
The medications could be taken by mouth, injected into the penis, or put into the urethra – the tube that goes through the penis and carries urine and semen.
Natural remedies and herbs for ED
For some men, natural remedies may help treat ED. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist before trying a new supplement or herb. However, patients have been cautioned to strictly adhere to doctor’s recommendations when buying supplements and herbs. Many of the drugs are not to be regulated, which means they may contain additional ingredients not listed on the labels.
A talk therapist can also help you manage your mental health. You’ll likely work with your therapist over several sessions, and your therapist will address things like major stress or anxiety factors, feelings around sex, or subconscious conflicts that could be affecting your sexual well-being.
A relationship counsellor can help you reconnect emotionally with a partner, which may also help the patient’s ED.
Some men use a form of massage therapy called prostatic massage. Practitioners massage the tissues in and around your groin to promote blood flow to your penis. There are limited studies on the efficacy of this type of massage.
Acupuncture may help treat psychological ED, though studies are limited and inconclusive on this option. You will likely need several appointments before you begin to notice any improvements. When choosing an acupuncturist, look for a certified practitioner who uses disposable needles.
Lifestyle changes and diet
Healthy lifestyle habits may prevent ED, and in some situations reverse the condition. This can be achieved by exercise regularly; maintain a low blood pressure; eat a balanced, nutritious diet; maintain a healthy weight, avoid or reduce alcohol and cigarettes, lose weight and reduce your stress.