A recent study conducted by Dr A. Festus and others of the University of Ife in Nigeria, found that 44 percent of men aged 30 to 70 suffer from erectile dysfunction, of which 8 percent was severe and 36 percent moderate.
According to the research, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) or impotence can be defined as persistent difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection sufficient to have sexual intercourse, when a man is unable to get or keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse.
While another study in the journal Panafricanmed revealed that the rate of ED among men is alarming, and it makes them attend primary care clinics regularly.
However, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, chief medical director, Medical Art Centre & Mart Medicare, Lagos, has urged all ED sufferers to undergo a complete medical examination that includes laboratory tests and measurement of the male hormone panel to indicate the level of testosterone replacement that is needed.
The reproductive endocrinologist, who spoke with Pharmanewsonline through an email interview, mentioned the principal hormones that would be tested to include: testosterone, thyroid, dihydroepiandrosterone and growth hormone.
He said treatment will include a combination of testosterone replacement therapy, psychotherapy, herbs, diet and exercise, reduction in the intake of grapefruit, alcohol and fats.
The World Health Organization (WHO), also disclosed that the total androgen levels, not just testosterone also affect male ED as these hormones decline as men age. The apex health institution’s study found that androgen levels of men aged 70 were only 10 percent of that of men of 25 years.
The scientists found that the incidence of erectile dysfunction increased as men got older from 38.5 percent for men aged 31-40 years to 64 percent for the older age group of 61-79 years. Of social significance is the discovery of the researchers that most men deny the existence of ED.
While 39 percent regard it as a myth, 24 percent attributed it to various non-scientific causes which they usually blame on their wives. They, therefore, use this excuse to look for younger partners, only to discover that the problem has not gone away. They may stop looking for younger partners but the denial of its existence and not realizing that ED has a medical foundation stops men from seeking appropriate medical help.
Common causes of ED as validated by previous studies are listed below:
- Medical Conditions
Serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, could be the origin of your erectile dysfunction. In fact, causes of heart disease and erectile dysfunction are very similar. ED symptoms may occur earlier than those of heart disease due to cardiovascular issues like atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, the narrowing of blood vessels throughout parts of the body, is believed to be the most common cause of erectile dysfunction and a warning sign of a future heart attack or stroke. Other medical conditions that put men at risk for erectile dysfunction are diabetes, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and Peyronie’s disease.
Are you taking any prescribed or over-the-counter drugs on a regular basis? Certain medications may make it difficult for you to get or keep an erection, like antidepressants, antihistamines or blood pressure medications. While these drugs may treat a condition, they can also affect hormones, nerves, or blood circulation, which can all increase the risk of erectile dysfunction. If you think your ED may be the result of a medication, it’s best to consult your physician.
- Emotional Distress
Have you been fighting with your partner? Relationship problems causing stress can lead to struggling in the bedroom. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, guilt, and fear of sexual failure are other contributing factors.
- Lifestyle Choices
Making poor health decisions on a daily basis may affect your ability to get an erection. Men who are overweight, habitual smokers, alcoholics, or substance abusers are more prone to experiencing erectile dysfunction. Eating foods high in flavonoids, like blueberries, help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. Increased flavonoid intake also helped men smoke less, drink less and exercise more.
- Physical Injury
While exercise is great for your health, be cautious of any physical activity that could injure your lower half, as injuries to these areas of the body can cause erectile dysfunction. With the increasing popularity of cycling, men have expressed concern about whether this exercise contributes to ED.
A recent study published in the Journal of Men’s Health concluded that there was no relationship between prolonged cycling and erectile dysfunction.
With 30 million Americans currently suffering from erectile dysfunction, a number estimated to rise to 320 million worldwide by 2025, it’s important to be active in your health care. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing impotence and share your concerns about any underlying causes.
Pelvic floor exercises have long been known to help patients with incontinence. The study conducted by a team of scientists in Bristol involved participants who had been suffering from erectile dysfunction for at least six months. 40 per cent of participants reported that they regained their erectile function within 3 to 6 months. A further 35 per cent reported, that they noticed a significant improvement to their condition.
The scientists from Bristol compared the effectiveness of these exercises to that of Viagra and believe regularly exercising your pelvic floor muscles may be the best way of preventing erectile dysfunction. The exercises train the muscles surrounding your penis, which improves the blood flow and improves your ability to gain and keep an erection.
Physical exercise – how sport can help
Exercising regularly is a great way to improve the state of your general health and boost your performance. A series of prolonged bad habits can damage the tissue responsible for erections over the years.
When combined with a healthier lifestyle, regular physical activity can contribute to improving your blood flow and restore your ability to get erections. All you need to do is to maintain a regular activity, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, to improve your blood pressure, blood flow, cardio and overall health. Even walking is a good option, although it’s better to practice a sport or do some hard exercise to push yourself!
However, there is one sport you may want to avoid: cycling. Long-term and long hours of outdoors cycling can damage the nerves in your pelvic area which control erections. Indoors cycling is much less hazardous as the seat is generally wider and less prone to damaging your body.
References: Science Alert; Medical News Daily; WebMD; and Science Daily.