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Hi guys – Dr. Larson here. I just wanted to reach out and touch base to bring some awareness about erectile dysfunction.
As lots of people know, this can be a super common problem. As many as 40% of men aged 40 and up to 70% of men at the age of 70 suffer from this condition. It can really affect the quality of life of many of these men. When patients come into my clinic complaining about erectile dysfunction, we often spend some time taking in history and figuring out some important questions. Are they able to get an erection while they’re by themselves masturbating? Can they only get it for a short while then they lose it? Can they get it with one partner, but maybe not a different partner? Things like this can all kind of help us pin down the cause of the erectile dysfunction.
When it comes to treating erectile dysfunction, we always like to first maximize our non-pharmacological treatment options. This includes increasing exercise, losing weight, as well as addressing any anxiety or psychological issues around the ability to achieve and maintain erections. This could include also addressing any relationship dysfunction that might be present.
Moving on to medications to treat erectile dysfunction, there are quite a few options actually available to us. We usually start with some low-dose oral medications such as Viagra, Cialis or the generic equivalent. These work quite well for people with mild erectile dysfunction. If this isn’t effective, we have a number of other treatments available to us. One of them can be shock wave therapy. This is a treatment applied to the penis that can overtime regrow blood vessels and improve functioning. We also have medication that can be inserted into the penis or injected into the penis to help achieve erections. And these are much more reliable. If this still isn’t working for the patients, then we also have the options of combining a penis pump with a penile ring to help maintain erections. And finally, for our most resistant patients, we sometimes do surgeries and implant penis prosthesis, which can help patients have successful sexual encounters.
As alluded to before, erections are very closely tied to our fitness level. Lots of research has shown that exercise and weight-loss can improve erectile function. Furthermore, cardio seems to have a special benefit more than weight training for erectile dysfunction treatment. This is probably due to the effect on the heart itself and its ability to pump blood to the distal extremities including the penis. There are some foods that may also help improve erections. There’s some research around veganism that may suggest that vegan diets can help improve erectile function. Furthermore, foods that are high in flavonoids may also be implicated in improving sexual function. These would be things like berries and other fruits and vegetables that are high in nutritious value. There are some amino acids that can help improve erectile function as well by increasing the amount of nitric oxide available to us. You may read online about things like arginine and citrulline and these have been shown in studies to improve erectile function as well. Some other supplements that have shown some benefit in either erectile function or in libido would be horny goat weed, fenugreek and other similar ones such as maca or tribulus that you might read about online.
The psychological impact on erections really can’t be overstated. It’s very, very important to our functioning. If there is significant discord in a relationship that can really make it challenging to achieve erections and that’s often a great place to start when it comes to treatment which would be relationship counselling. Anxiety around achieving and maintaining an erection can also really negatively influence men, especially if there is a new partner involved and they really want to make a good first impression, that can make it very challenging and actually work against them significantly. Some men also suffer from premature ejaculation. They really try to focus on lasting longer in bed and are worried about how they’re going to perform and if they’re ejaculating too quickly. And once again, this fear can really negatively affect a man’s ability to achieve and maintain his erection.
There are a number of different causes of erectile dysfunction. Certainly, we see the organic causes such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, vascular damage from smoking. These will all certainly play a big role in erectile dysfunction and how about we respond to it. In younger men, and in some older men, there’s often a component of anxiety and relationship discord as well, which can also play a big role in our ability to achieve erections. Recreational drugs, alcohol, things like this can also really affect our ability to get erections acutely. So you see a lot of men noting that when they go out they’re having a hard time performing after a few too many drinks on the weekend. These can all play a significant role in our ability to maintain and achieve erections.
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