So you’ve got the flowers, chocolate, suited and booted but you are stressing about what comes next and you are not alone. 1 in 10 men suffer from erectile dysfunction with the condition being present in half of 40-70 men to some degree. This means that you have a persistent or recurring inability to attain or maintain an erection enough to complete intercourse.
As 14th Feb marks National Impotence Day as well as Valentine’s day, we want to raise awareness of this issue and highlight the possible solutions to solve this problem.
ED is something that men find challenging to talk about because they feel it affects their sense of identity and manlihood. However there is no reason to feel stressed, embarrassed or weak. You are not alone and there are many treatment options available!
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What causes erectile dysfunction?
Erections are complicated and there are a variety of reasons why you may have this issue. We can group causes broadly into:
- Vasculogenic - Blood flow to the penis is affected in cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes
- Neurogenic - MS, Parkinson’s, stroke and diabetes affect nervous system function
- Psychogenic - Performance anxiety and depression for example.
- Hormonal - This includes thyroid gland dysfunction, low testosterone and Cushing’s syndrome
- Anatomical - Anything affecting anatomical structures of the penis e.g. Peyronie’s disease
- Iatrogenic - ED following surgery or medication related ED
- Drug use - Drinking excessive alcohol and smoking are related to ED
An important point here is that erections serve as a crude barometer for your overall health. For example, blood vessels in your penis are finer than other blood vessels in your body, this is why if they start becoming damaged (whether this is due to plaques from high cholesterol or wearing out due to high blood pressure), the other vessels in your body may later start to follow raising your risk of a stroke or heart attack. Therefore it is important to tackle the underlying cause of ED early.
What treatments are available for erectile dysfunction?
We recommend speaking to a doctor. During the consultation the doctor can offer treatment options best tailored to you. There are many ways to improve erections:
- Fix reversible causes - You can be offered support to stop smoking or drinking. Switching to a healthier diet and exercise also helps.
- Pharmacological treatment - Drugs such as Viagra or Cialis are available. These allow the blood vessels in your penis to remain dilated so an erection is maintained. Alternatively prostaglandins or testosterone (if you are lacking in this hormone) may be considered.
- Medical Devices - Examples of these include vacuum erection devices or penile implants.
- Behavioural Therapies - If psychological issues are at the core of the problem therapy such as CBT may be effective.
Important points to consider here are that you still need to feel desire for your partner for these methods to work, effectiveness may improve gradually with these treatments or different treatments may need to be tried. A specific tip is not to have a meal high in fats before you take Viagra.
If you have erectile dysfunction do not hesitate to contact your doctor. It can be an important indicator of an underlying health issue that is best tackled early. Valentine’s day can add to pressure on performance but there are several ways to overcome this problem.