One of the major challenges men experience as they age is erectile dysfunction. This is so troubling because it prevents a man from satisfying his partner sexually. This article throws light on what causes erectile dysfunction in men and possible solutions to the challenge. It is an important read for every man.
According to medical experts, the inability of men to have a satisfying sex life as they age is often due to low testosterone, damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the male organs.
The experts noted that these challenges usually lead to a lack of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
According to them, diabetes, hypertension, obesity can also negatively affect males’ sexual performance.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Consultant Urologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Oluwaseun Akinola said erectile dysfunction is common among men from age 50 but is hardly discussed because of stigmatisation.
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse.
Explaining, he said, “There are three things that could affect a male’s sexual performance and they have equal importance. Number one is the hormone. The hormone of the male is testosterone that is responsible for the desire to have sex and maintain an erection.
“Secondly, we have the blood vessels in the male genital organ, with arteries and veins and you have the nerves which carry the signals and all these things need to be working perfectly for a man to have a good erection. But, if anything affects them, it can affect the sexual performance of a man.
“Whenever you have a combination of diabetes, high blood sugar, they can affect the function of the nerves in the genital organ and it could lead to erectile problems. If you have problems with the blood vessels, it can lead to problems with sexual performance.”The Urologist also noted that obesity can affect sexual performance by damaging the blood vessels and decreasing testosterone.
“Obesity is related to poor management of sugar in the body, something we refer to as metabolic syndrome and can lead to diabetes which can affect the nerves.
“The important thing is for a man to see what can improve the functions of the hormones, nerves, veins and help reduce obesity. Things that will make you healthier are generally good for sexual health. So, weight loss, exercise, eating the right food can help. Exercise reduces obesity which can affect hormones as well.
“What happens in men that are fat is that testosterone produced by the body can be converted by the fat cells into estrogen and it can affect erectile function, even the desire to have sex.
“When a man presents with this problem, you have to find out what is causing the problem. Sometimes, you can reverse it and if addressed early enough,” he said.
Speaking further, Dr. Akinola said age is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction among men; “as the age increases, erectile dysfunction increases and several studies have confirmed this.”
A study published in the Turkish Journal of Urology shows that the severity of erectile dysfunction is directly related to vascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, smoking, dyslipidemia, and diabetes mellitus.
The study noted that the median prevalence of erectile dysfunction was calculated as 33 percent among all males greater than or equal to 40 years of age.
When subjects were stratified by age; median prevalence rates of erectile dysfunction were 17 percent for 40–49 years, 35.5 percent for 50–59 years, 68.8 percent for 60–69 years, and 82.9 percent for males greater than or equal to 70 years.
“We believe that a greater understanding of the epidemiological surveys of the prevalence of ED and its associations will help clinicians to look outside our specialty for strategies to improve male sexual function in order to improve their quality of life.
“It is crucial to take a more global approach to the management of ED, one that focuses not only on chronic diseases but also men’s sexual quality of life,” the researchers said.
Dr. Akinola added that 50 per cent of men aged 50 experience some degrees of erectile problems.
“It’s quite a common thing but to prevent it, you have to target what we refer to as modifiable risk factors. These are things that target your arteries, veins, and nerves. The important takeaway message for men trying to improve their sexual performance is the importance of being in good health and exercising,” Akinola said.
According to him, some common medications can also have negative effects on male libido and erection.
He said the sexual performance of a man may be decreased by drugs that block the testosterone.
“Any medication that will alter the hormones in the body can affect sexual function. Any medication that lowers testosterone can do that. Some other medications that can cause erectile dysfunction are common blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers.
“It is advisable to discuss with your doctor if you notice a decline in your erectile function after starting a new medicine,” he said.