Did you know that erectile dysfunction is more than just a sexual issue and that it doesn’t just affect older men? Here’s what it could mean for a man’s health and how it can be treated.
What causes ED?
Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to achieve or maintain an erection, is a condition that can affect men at any age, and for various reasons.
According to Dr Julian Hong of DTAP Clinic (Dr Tan and Partners), the main causes of ED are often vascular problems, with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol all playing roles. In fact, ED can be the first sign of diabetes or coronary artery disease (CAD).
“The vessels that transport blood to other parts of the body become obstructed or narrowed by diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. This also means that the blood flow back to the heart will be poor, potentially leading to something more fatal such as a heart attack,” he says.
Hormonal problems such as low testosterone and thyroid disease can also be to blame for ED, as well as brain or spinal cord problems from trauma or injury. For some men, it can be attributed to psychological problems such as anxiety, relationship problems, depression and stress.
Furthermore, ED can majorly affect a man’s confidence, mental health and overall well-being. Some men associate erections with their masculinity, so not being able to please their partners sexually can be a major blow to their dignity and have a negative impact on their relationships. Getting treatment can help boost feelings of self-worth and restore confidence.
Though the prevalence or ED increases with age, Dr Hong says more and more younger men are coming to him with issues, with the average age of patients in their 40s. This, he says, can be attributed to a few things.
“More and more people are starting to place more emphasis on their sexual health, stressful lifestyles are starting to take a toll at a younger age, and more men at a younger age are not afraid to face up to this issue and find answers.”
“You do not have to suffer in silence,” he says. “Seeing us in clinic for treatment is just a phone call or email away.”
For some men, making lifestyle and diet changes, and controlling risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol are enough to reverse ED. For others, treatment may require oral medication or a combination of medication and therapies – it really depends on the patient.
According to Dr Hong, Electro Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a popular ED treatment choice for various reasons. The painless procedure, which takes around 30 minutes, passes shockwaves into the penile tissue, resulting in an inflammatory response, causing the body to increase blood flow into that region. This ultimately triggers two biochemical responses that improve and restore the erection mechanism: the formation of new blood vessels and the rejuvenation of the penile smooth muscular tissue, both of which ultimately result in sustained and stronger erections.
Dr Hong says ESWT can improve and enhance other modalities, and is often used in combination with oral medications and/or injection therapies.
“Traditionally, it was been thought that oral medications are the go-to panacea when it comes to ED. However, studies since 2010 have shown the benefits of ESWT on the treatment of ED. It has become the go-to for improving erections naturally and for restoring the erection mechanism,”. says Dr Hong. “The good news is that many of our patients do not need to depend on oral medications after ESWT, thereby creating a ‘natural’ outcome.”
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