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Problem getting it up

Your Health Your Wealth

By Diana M Williams

Sunday, April 06, 2014    

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CAN you imagine moving from an active, incredibly mind-blowing sex life to not being able to get an erection, or if you do, not being able to maintain it?

Erectile dysfunction, also known as male impotence, is the inability of a man to get a good enough erection to achieve satisfactory sexual intercourse.

According to urologist at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), Dr Warren Chin, erectile dysfunction is unwelcoming news to men, and although it affects their inborn masculinity, modern medicine has made this diagnosis an easier pill to swallow.

But the mystery surrounding the occurrence of erectile dysfunction has given life to myriad myths, among them: It doesn't affect younger men; it is a normal part of the ageing process; wearing tight underwear stifles its longevity; sexually unattractive partners can deflate air movement; and there is no need to visit the doctor, simple herbal supplements and remedies can cure this condition.

There is also the fear that being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction will impede a man's ability to father a child. However, according to Dr Chin it is indeed possible to have children after the diagnosis.

He also stated that contrary to most men's fear, there is no loss of libido or decrease in the sexual desire, as this is not an associated side effect of erectile dysfunction.

CAUSES

According to Dr Chin, the causes of erectile dysfunction fall into two categories, physical and psychological.

Recent research done by the University of Maryland Medical Centre has attributed 85 per cent of erectile dysfunction in patients to physical causes. Clogged blood vessels, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are but a few of those causes. It has also been noted that men living with the condition are at a greater risk for heart attack and stroke. Diabetic men are also at risk.

Injuries incurred, particularly those that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord, damage to the brain, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke are among the other physical causes. Additionally, although hormonal imbalance of testosterone has been proclaimed responsible, reports have proven that it is a minority factor.

Men should also watch their lifestyle choices. A proper diet is necessary and regular exercise too. Drinking excessively and smoking incessantly as men can be considered synonymous to suicide and substance abuse can lead to infertility, which is another factor to consider.

Some medications may also cause erection problems. Medications closely linked to this, according to Dr Chin, include: anti-depressants, antihistamines, hypertension medicines, and medications for Parkinson's disease. However, the urologist was quick to point out that each man is different, so the bodily reaction will vary.

Surgical procedures such as orthopaedic, fistula and procedures associated with prostate, colon or rectal cancer can sidetrack an erection. Vasectomies, however, are not linked to erectile dysfunction.

An unfit state of mind or being mentally incapable of sifting through issues can also cause a negative reaction to an erection. Depression, stress, relationship difficulties, guilt exhaustion, and anxiety are major interferers to having sex, especially among younger men. If you wake up in the morning with an erect penis or are able to get an erection through masturbation, this is a signal that it may be a psychological barrier.

IS THERE A CURE?

Dr Chin explained that the older the men the greater the chances of developing erectile dysfunction. But, there are oral prescriptions, such as Viagra, Cialis and Livitra for men who suffer from the condition.

Gynaecologist at the Portmore Community Medical Complex, Dr Win Win Naing, said the process associated with getting an erection is unappreciated by the majority as it is more complex than what is believed. The purpose of the drug is to increase blood flow that allows a man to get an erection. These drugs enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical which relaxes the muscles in the penis and helps in its response to sexual stimulation.

There is also Anafranil, an over-the-counter medication also known as "bomb gungo", which is an anti-depressant with the side effect of delaying ejaculation.

Though not popular, surgical treatment is also available for men who have been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction and it is offered by both the University Hospital of the West Indies and KPH. Dr Chin advised, however, that the procedure must be recommended by the urologist, which is usually a last resort.

WHAT'S NEXT?

After diagnosis, it is not the end of the world. Medicine continually advances and newer treatments become available. Visit a doctor once you are experiencing signs of the dysfunction and if it becomes overbearing, seek the advice of a psychologist.

Dr Chin also noted that the fear of being ridiculed can be an embarrassing factor, but advised that men should refrain from engaging in foolish activities that could become more harmful to their manhood.

If committed, ensure that your partner is made aware of your sexual challenges. Do not hide it. As the men go through this life-changing experience, it is important that as his partner, unwavering support and sensitivity to the matter is shown. Already a complicated experience, it is much harder to face without a shoulder to lean on, or constantly being ridiculed about being impotent. This is poisonous to his ego and masculinity, Dr Chin concluded.

Men and women alike should remain informed about erectile disfunction. But, most importantly, they must realise that it is indeed possible, even after the diagnosis, to have a healthy sexual relationship.

Diana M Williams is a public relations assistant, writer and avid blogger who can be contacted at madetowrite27@gmail.com or www.twitter.com/madetowrite27.

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