Erectile dysfunction – the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual performance – affects as many as 40 percent of 40-year-old men and 70 percent of 70-year-old men, yet less than 10 percent of those with erectile dysfunction (ED) will discuss it with their doctor. That’s a problem for a few reasons.
Erectile dysfunction is often an early warning sign of other more serious physiological problems, not to mention the serious impact erectile dysfunction can have on relationships and self-esteem. The good news is that erectile dysfunction can be treated, oftentimes, reversed completely.
Start by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating right and exercising regularly. Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best defenses against ED as obesity raises the risk for vascular disease and diabetes – two of its major causes. Pay attention to your vascular health including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Poor vascular health can damage arteries in the heart and brain, which can lead to ED. It’s also important to reduce other risk factors such as eliminating smoking and limiting alcohol.
Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the severity of the condition and the factors triggering it. Medication such as Viagra is a typical first-line treatment. Psychosexual counselling is becoming increasingly prominent in treating psychological factors related to erectile dysfunction, however it’s also important to rule out any physiological causes.
The issue of erectile dysfunction is often avoided among men, but it’s important for men with ED to not feel ashamed or isolated. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about ED if it is affecting you.
—Dr. Gene Vitug, Sports Medicine and
Primary Care Physician