Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Overcoming erectile dysfunction

Do you know?

Most men experience erectile dysfunction (ED) once they cross the half century bridge and of course, men being men, they are embarrassed to accept it, let alone talk about it. Mind you, it’s a very normal and natural condition.

As older adults, while your mind might still have the same virality as a 20 year old, the truth is it’s hard to expect the same of your body.

Even though ED is still considered a taboo topic, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the reasons behind it, get appropriate treatment and definitely know whom to talk to about it.

I will take you through the whole bandit of ED and once you have knowledge on it, then the next steps become doable —

What causes an Erection?

An erection is the hardening of your penis as a result of increased blood flow into your penis. Sexual thoughts or sexual contact with your penis usually stimulates an erection. When a person with a penis is sexually excited, a muscle within the blood vessels in the penis relaxes which allows the flood to flow through the penile arteries, filling the two chambers in the penis. When the chambers are full of blood it causes the penis to grow rigid and erect. The penile veins constrict trapping the blood in the chambers. An erection ends when the muscles constrict and the built up blood can flow out through the penile veins.

Erectile dysfunction can occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process.

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that affects a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection firm enough to perform during sex. It is often caused by physical or psychological factors or even a combination of both. ED is a common condition that affects men of all ages and backgrounds, primarily seniors.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

  • Trouble getting and maintaining an erection
  • Reduced sexual desire and libido
  • Premature or delayed ejaculation
  • Anorgasmia (the inability to achieve an orgasm after prolonged stimulation)

Causes of erectile dysfunction —

Male sexual arousal is a complex process. It involves hormones, the brain, emotions, nerves, blood vessels and muscles. If even one part of the erection process does not function properly it can lead to erectile dysfunction. Stress and your mental health can also cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction.

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction —

 If there isn’t enough blood flow into the penis

  • The penis cannot trap blood during an erection
  • Nerves
  • Disease or injury
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer treatments
  • Certain medications
  • Heart issues
  • Obesity or metabolic syndrome
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Low testosterone levels

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction —

  • Emotional or relationship problems or sexual performance anxiety
  • Depression and anxiety
  •  Stress
  • Mental health problems caused by erectile dysfunction which can make it worse
  • Addiction and any kind of substance abuse

 When should you see a doctor?

A family doctor or general doctor is a good first opinion to get when you suspect ED. Talk to your doctor even if you’re embarrassed because chances are an underlying condition is the cause of erectile dysfunction and treating that might be enough to reverse erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction might happen once in a while to all men, which is completely normal and nothing to worry about. If it is a regular occurrence then seeking medical attention might do you good especially if it is caused by an underlying medical condition.

A few alternative ways to manage erectile dysfunction —

  • Kegel exercises- some exercises can also help with ED like kegel exercises. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which are used to get and maintain an erection.
  • Aerobic exercise- moderate exercise can help increase blood flow to your penile area which can relieve ED. Exercises like running, cycling, brisk walking and swimming are good for you. Physical activity also helps improve your blood vessel health, lower stress and even raise your testosterone levels, which can all help with erectile dysfunction.
  • Yoga- practising yoga not only relaxes your mind and body but it can also help reduce any stress or anxiety you have in life which can aggravate ED. Try practising yoga if you suffer from any ED symptoms.
  • Diet- Eating a balanced diet will help you maintain healthy sexual function and even decrease your risk of developing ED. Research has shown that a plant-based diet can help treat ED.
  • Sleep- Getting enough sleep each night is very important. What’s more important is getting good quality sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lower your testosterone levels, which can lead to ED.
  • Lifestyle changes- Certain lifestyle changes like your diet, taking control of your health and giving up harmful substances like alcohol and smoking can help prevent and get rid of ED.
  •  Herbs and supplements- Certain herbs and supplements like shatavari, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), ginseng, zinc and horny goat weed have shown results of lowering the risk of developing ED. Don’t buy herbs and supplements for ED treatment unless you speak with your doctor first because some supplements can have dangerous side effects especially if it interferes with other medication that you take.
  • Sex therapy or couples counselling- If you suffer from ED, going for sex therapy or attending counselling with your partner to understand your condition and work through and around it can help. Going for therapy can improve communication between couples and even their sexual relationship by incorporating ED treatments.

Erectile dysfunction is nothing to be ashamed of —

ED is a common yet complex problem which can be treated with the right tools.

ED is not a sign of sexual dysfunction. You can still have a  healthy and enjoyable sex life if you have erectile dysfunction.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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