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The Bigger Picture of Erectile Dysfunction — an article on the Smart Living Network
October 31, 2011 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Bigger Picture of Erectile Dysfunction


Let's face it - erectile dysfunction (ED or impotence) is an embarrassing problem. At least, it's not exactly the sort of problem that men discuss with other men over coffee or at social gatherings! 

Unfortunately, this shroud of secrecy can leak over into a relationship and set forth a cascade of difficulties not only for a man, but his partner and their relationship.  Though it may be difficult, it is important for a man to discuss erectile dysfunction with his partner and consider seeking medical help.  This blog will focus on the causes and relationship issues of ED.

How common is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is very common. In fact, it is shared by over 30 million men in the U.S! 

For men over the age of 65, the rate is 65%.  Men with chronic disease also have increased rates of ED, especially diabetics.  50% of men with diabetes have ED.  Smoking also increases a man's chances of having ED.  One pack per day smokers have a 50% higher chance of having ED than non-smokers their same age.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Many times a cause can be identified in erectile dysfunction. 

  • Tobacco or Alcohol Use. Besides tobacco, alcohol use can lead to ED. 
  • Prescription Medications. Prescription drugs are often culprits, especially those used to treat high blood pressure and depression. 
  • Hormonal Problems. Sometimes the cause is hormonal.  The main hormone implicated is testosterone.  Low testosterone is also associated with weight gain, fatigue and low libido. (For more information on the signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels, check out my blog "Do I Have Low Testosterone?")
  • Chronic Disease. As already mentioned, certain chronic diseases increase a man's chances of having ED.  Besides diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) are commonly associated. 
  • Excess Weight. Obesity in and of itself is also a factor in ED. 
  • Stress. Sometimes the cause is psychological due to stress, fatigue or depression. 

Sex with Erectile Dysfunction

When a man has trouble with erections, this often translates into a decrease in sex. However, this does NOT mean there is decrease in the interest. Many men with this problem begin to avoid sex because they fear they won't be able to get or maintain an erection.

A downward spiral ensues from here. 

This anxiety and lack of self-confidence may also permeate other facets of a man's life in his social and work environment.  In a relationship, without a proper discussion, a partner may feel that they are not loved or desired and some may even begin to suspect the man is having needs met in another relationship.

What Should I Do About My Erectile Dysfunction?

If you are in this cycle or at risk of being in the cycle, I advise you to act now. 

  • Consider Medication Side Effects. Examine what medications you are taking for a possible cause. 
  • Stop Smoking and Drinking. Work toward eliminating tobacco and alcohol. 
  • Get Moving. Begin an aerobic exercise program.  A study showed that ED was improved significantly 25% of the time when men engaged in aerobic exercise. 
  • Talk to Your Partner.Remember, as with the bigger picture of sexual relationships, it is not just about self. There are often two people to consider in the issue of erectile dysfunction.Bring your greatest ally (your spouse or partner) into your struggle. Revealing the nature of the problem may improve the situation more than you may realize.   
  • Talk to Your Doctor. Next, contact your doctor.  This is important on two levels.  First, your erectile dysfunction may herald a treatable and/or serious health condition.  Screening tests may be done for heart disease, diabetes or low testosterone.  Secondly, help can be offered.  Basically, when there is a will, there is a way to improve ED.   

BOTTOM LINE: This is a common problem and help is available.  Such help may transcend into significant improvement in your relationship and other life factors. You do not have to handle this alone!

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