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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Erectile dysfunction: it’s more common than you think

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According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as many as 18 million men may be affected by erectile dysfunction in the U.S.

Though this may be a sensitive topic for many men who have experienced difficulty maintaining or getting an erection, it is an issue that’s not only common but psychologist Richard Wirtz of Chestertown, Md., says it’s normal.

“Most men throughout their lifetime will have problems getting or keeping an erection. They can be perfectly healthy, and it just may be a matter of fatigue or stress,” Wirtz said.

There are various physical, medical and emotional causes of erectile dysfunction also called impotence. These range from alcohol and tobacco use, drug abuse, nervous feelings of sexual intimacy, depression, diabetes, hypertension or atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries.

The Massachusetts Male Aging Study says though the overall probability of ED increases dramatically as men get older; it does not suggest age is a cause of ED.

According to the medical source healthcommunities.com, erectile dysfunction affects 5 percent of men in their 40s and 15 to 25 percent of men by the age of 65.

Urologist David Knowles at Advanced Urologic Surgeons says experts believe it isn’t age that causes erectile dysfunction but the accumulation of risk factors over an extended period of time.

“The reality is a man getting an erection is a very complicated process that has a lot to do with the vascular system and any kind of issues that interrupts or interferes with that can create problems,” Wirtz said.

Wirtz says men should stay clear of jumping to hasty generalizations about trying to prematurely diagnose themselves with ED just because they may have experienced the inability to get or sustain an erection.

He says the first step is going to your primary physician to see if a medical issue is causing ED. He also stresses the importance of talking openly with your doctor though the topic may be uneasy or unsettling for some men.

“This is vital because there may be other physical causes the doctor can help them treat very successfully and never really ever go at a specific ED treatment,” Wirtz said.

If all the physical reasons have been ruled out then the issue may be psychological. If this is the case, Wirtz says it’s best to sit down and speak with a therapist to address the issue.

After the proper diagnosis, which varies per incidence, it’s then time to look at your different options for treatments – whether it be medications or psychological therapy. Even then, the spectrum of one’s options are vast from popular medications such as Vigara or Cialis that help increase blood flow to the penis to penile implants.

Wirtz stresses the ability to get an erection is a process and it takes time.

“Men in one way or another have grown up to believe that somehow the ability to get an erection and have intercourse is a sign of their masculinity,” Wirtz said. “The bottom line is you can’t control whether you do or don’t.”

If there are men who think they may be experiencing ED one should know an occasional inability to get or sustain an erection is normal, but if its frequency increases or you are concerned, get help to receive the proper diagnosis.

Wirtz says “The most important thing is almost nobody needs to suffer from these kinds of problems and I encourage men not to be embarrassed and meet with their physician to find out what might be contributing because lots of times there are some easy solutions to the problems.”

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