Most men experience short lived or unexpected problems attaining or maintaining an erection at various times in their adult years. It is important NOT to panic or fear the worst with any erection problem.
As a sexologist, I have met many men in my consulting rooms who have been extremely worried, believing that their erectile functioning is ‘at the beginning of the end’. My recommendation is that a man seek help very promptly for any erection concerns so that negative or pessimistic thoughts do not take hold in his mind.
It is known that there are various risk factors for developing ‘erectile dysfunction’ – that is, problems with erections. Even when a man has several risk factors, he is advised to have his particular problem and medical status assessed by an experienced doctor who has a positive and optimistic approach.
The presence of risk factors in themselves do not necessarily condemn a man to ongoing or permanent erection problems. Therefore, following a medical assessment, the aim is to work toward achieving the best possible improvement of erections for the enjoyment of the man’s sexual experiences with his partner. Men who have no current partner and who need sexual confidence can benefit from seeking help for their erectile problems .
This is a wonderful example: Over 20 years ago, a 58 year old insulin-dependent diabetic man consulted me about ‘failing’ erections. This form of diabetes is known to be a very significant risk factor for problems with erections in the long term. Several doctors told him that what he was experiencing (very poor erections and an inability to have intercourse) was a permanent effect of his diabetes and that this was ‘as good as it could get’. This was well before Viagra came on the market. I worked with this man and his partner, suggesting sexual/behavioural techniques for them to practice together. The couple were delighted to experience a significant improvement of erections sufficient for intercourse and more enjoyable sexual experiences. Through various exercises over some weeks, the man was able to relax and focus enough in ways that supported the best erectile functioning his body was capable of.
The main medical risk factors for erectile dysfunction/problems are those that affect the cardiovascular system: diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. A number of other medical conditions and medications can affect erectile functioning – this is a topic in itself!
Significant lifestyle risk factors include smoking, obesity, high alcohol intake, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and certain recreational drugs.
Men who have the ‘metabolic syndrome’: (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, an excess of body fat around the waist and high cholesterol levels) have a greater risk of a number of medical conditions, particularly heart disease. Metabolic syndrome increases a man’s risk for developing erectile dysfunction.
Viewed another way, men who have erection problems need to be assessed by a doctor for their general cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) health. As erection difficulties may suggest damage to the arteries (blood vessels) supplying the areas that support erections, other areas in the body (including blood vessels supplying the heart) may also be damaged.
There are many statistics about the percentages of men who experience ‘erectile dysfunction’ at various ages. In general, the older a man is, the more risk he has for developing erection problems. However, for the individual man, statistics may not be helpful – and may even cause him to be disheartened and to give up hope.
I strongly encourage any man who is experiencing problems with erections to seek a medical opinion in order to look after his health and to take positive action.
Please feel free to book in with me, Dr Marie Tudor at ‘Adelaide Sex Therapy’ if you would like me to assess your particular symptoms. I am always keen to liaise with GP’s to ensure the best possible health outcomes for people.
Click here to learn more about erectile dysfunction and how I, as a sexologist can help.