It’s not anyone’s favorite subject, but erectile dysfunction is a condition that many men battle behind closed doors and suffer silently. However, since sexual relations are a mutual activity, it can be an awkward conversation to bring up in the bedroom if left untreated, or it may even affect a man’s lifestyle by making him shy away from sexual encounters completely. More affordable drug options like generic Levitra and generic Viagra are now available, but men commonly have to explore a variety of options for being able to overcome their condition, whether it’s drugs or other treatment routes.
Unfortunately, it seems that erectile dysfunction is on the rise, especially among the demographic of young men. However, there is good news among the bad news. Scientists are finding more and more effective ways to treat erectile dysfunction and identifying more and more risk factors that can lead to the development of erectile dysfunction -- thereby also identifying things to avoid in order to protect oneself from erectile dysfunction.
Whether you or a loved one are dealing with erectile dysfunction, this article will bring you up to speed and fill you in on what you need to know. Read on to learn more about the current research and surprising facts that may shock you about erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) and you
What is erectile dysfunction, exactly? If you’re living in the modern world, chances are more than likely that you are already familiar with this condition. Whether you are a man who has experienced it yourself or have a partner who struggles with this, it’s a very common experience for men of all ages (though it is more prevalent in the older generations and can sometimes be a natural factor of aging).
However, if you’re still not sure what exactly erectile dysfunction is, it is the consistent struggle with getting, keeping, or maintaining an erection, which is a byproduct of male sexual arousal. This experience is normal on occasion, at times due to life circumstances, diet, and the like. However, battling it in the long term, especially when a lack of erection (or the lack of a lasting erection) prevents sexual intercourse, this is considered to cross over into the territory of true erectile dysfunction.
Though it is typically not talked about in polite company, erectile dysfunction is actually more common than most people think. In fact, some estimates place it affecting between fifteen and thirty million men in America. With numbers this large, it’s no wonder that treating erectile dysfunction is very important to researchers and pharmaceutical companies alike.
The truth is: erectile dysfunction may be specifically a man’s struggle, but it affects women -- their partners -- as well. So even though the numbers of men battling erectile dysfunction are quite large, in reality, erectile dysfunction affects many more people than those statistics disclose.
Erectile dysfunction is on the rise in young men
One thing is for sure: though the condition is treatable and there are more options than ever when it comes to curing the symptoms, erectile dysfunction is on the rise among young men. Thus, there is a growing market, both for research and for methods of battling this condition.
An article in Prevention states, “According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, about 5% of 40-year-old men experience ED, but for 65-year-old men that number jumps to 15 to 25%.” In addition, modern scientific views on erectile dysfunction are evolving. “Until the early 1970s, experts thought underlying problems in the psyche caused most erection problems. Today, the medical community recognizes that medications, lifestyle choices, or injuries are some of the most common erectile dysfunction causes.”
Dr. Rupin Shah states, “The problem is also significantly rising amongst young men between the age groups 30-40, causing a discord in family life. While often ignored, this can have serious consequences on not only physical intimacy but also social relations. If you have the problem, don't be afraid to talk about it, both to your spouse and your doctor.”
Because erectile dysfunction can affect a wide range of men, young and old, there are all kinds of recommendations when it comes to combating the symptoms. Prevention provides the following advice: giving yourself time to get an erection and being patient with the process, especially as you age; taking another look at the prescription medication you’re taking for erectile dysfunction and talking to your doctor about whether another option would be better for you; going easy on the alcohol, as it depresses your nervous system and can make it hard to get an erection even if you don’t struggle with erectile dysfunction; consuming a diet that is not high in saturated fat and cholesterol; losing weight; quitting smoking; being careful about bike riding; avoiding caffeine; having more sex; and taking more time to relax.
If you are still having a hard time with erectile dysfunction even after trying these things, or if you suspect there is more of a serious issue at play, you should of course schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
Surprising risks that could lead to erectile dysfunction
In recent years, more expansive research on the potential risks that can lead to erectile dysfunction have surfaced. Did you know that conditions as varied as gout, diabetes, gum disease, mental health issues, and living with HIV all may factor into erectile dysfunction? Believe it or not, all of these could affect a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
According to the Deccan Chronicle, “Apart from a sedentary lifestyle, medical conditions such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and injury to the urinary system, spinal cord or penis can lead to erectile dysfunction. Moreover, regular intake of antidepressants, antiandrogens, sedatives and hypertension medication can occasionally become the cause of this problem. Age can also play a role in the issue.”
With so many different factors playing into the development of erectile dysfunction, it’s no wonder that there are so many men dealing with this condition. A huge variety of issues can all play into the condition, and therefore it can be hard to identify the exact problem area to target in its treatment.
Even aspirin may be linked to erectile dysfunction. An article on Healthline states, “A 2011 study speculated that if inflammation causes ED, then aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen could prevent ED. The study concluded that anti-inflammatory drugs seemed to cause ED. The study also reported that those who use aspirin and NSAIDs are 20 percent more likely to have ED.”
Thus, something as seemingly innocent as a simple aspirin could be making a huge impact on your sex life!
Can your lifestyle really affect erectile dysfunction?
Can health and lifestyle factors really make a difference to having sex? Could the “lifestyle prescription” work for you or your partner?
Maybe. Evidence shows that lifestyle is actually a major part of erectile dysfunction, though of course it’s not everything. There are certainly some cases of erectile dysfunction that affect even men who are living a healthy, engaged, and balanced lifestyle. Erectile dysfunction can affect anyone, and most men experience it at some point or another during their lives.
An article in Everyday Health states, “A study published in May 2014 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that some men can reverse erectile dysfunction with healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercise, weight loss, a varied diet, and good sleep. The Australian researchers also showed that even if erectile dysfunction medication is required, it's likely to be more effective if you implement these healthy lifestyle changes.”
Getting on a regular sleep pattern that works for you is also important. “Poor sleep patterns can be a contributing factor for erectile dysfunction… One review published in the journal Brain Research emphasized the intricate relationship between the level of sex hormones like testosterone, sexual function, and sleep, noting that testosterone levels increase with improved sleep, and lower levels are associated with sexual dysfunction. Hormone secretion is controlled by the body’s internal clock, and sleep patterns likely help the body determine when to release certain hormones.” That’s why treating erectile dysfunction really may be as simple as getting enough sleep and doing it regularly.
So, no matter what else you do to combat erectile dysfunction, it’s of vital importance that you combine that with a healthy, active lifestyle filled with a healthy diet and taking good care of yourself and your physical body.
What’s the solution? New options for treating erectile dysfunction
Fortunately, there are ways to try to avoid the development of erectile dysfunction and also to treat it when (and if) it becomes an issue. Some men turn to drugs they have to self inject like Caverject (Alprostadil), while others prefer to take pills and oral medications like Cialis or Priligy.
Other proposed solutions and breakthroughs include:
1. Using an ED device such as a vacuum (VED) that draws blood into the penis and holds it there in order to create an erection for sexual intercourse.
2. Drug therapy such as testosterone replacement.
3. Surgically implanted devices that are mechanically expanded when an erection is desired.
In addition, a recent study found that stem cell therapy shows promise. This requires the patient to inject their own stem cells into their penis, but it’s possible that further research here would find more efficient and comfortable ways for using stem cells as part of the treatment.
Low-intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy (LI-ESWT) is another new potential treatment. Unlike other forms of treatment, it “aims to restore the erectile mechanism in order to enable natural or spontaneous erections.” In other words, it aims to repair and restore functioning rather than just treat the symptoms.
Some researchers have also found that a topical gel that is applied to the penis may be able to help. The gel contains a hormone-like substance called alprostadil and something that helps deliver the alprostadil through the skin of the penis. Before, this same substance could only be administered through an injection, but a topical gel is much easier and painless. Unfortunately, some men may not react well to this gel, and it is not known how the gel may affect female partners.
The good news is that although there may not be any perfect solution, there are an increasing number of good options for treating erectile dysfunction, and it’s likely that even more are on the way.
Little known tips for avoiding or treating erectile dysfunction
What else can you do if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction? Other surprising tips that may be able to reverse erectile dysfunction include folic acid, CoQ10, and even some super foods -- we’ll discuss more on that below.
Other alternative forms of therapy are also gaining attention. Some men report success from acupuncture. “One study published in November 2013 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture can be beneficial for men experiencing erectile dysfunction as a side effect of antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Sexual side effects of these drugs happen to at least half of all people taking them, and by some counts up to 90 percent.” This is another reason why it’s important to discuss your medications and prescriptions with your doctor, and report things like erectile dysfunction if you find that you’re experiencing them. Your doctor will be able to take a close look at your daily regimen and identify any potential problem areas or drug interactions that could be a leading factor in your erectile dysfunction.
Did you know? Scientists are finding that somewhat random foods and supplements may also be able to help treat erectile dysfunction. In fact, the humble fruit we like to enjoy in the summer time -- watermelon -- may actually be a way to help combat the effects of erectile dysfunction!
“Researchers at Texas A&M Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center, in College Station, found that phytonutrients in watermelon have a Viagra-like effect. In particular, this juicy fruit contains citrulline, a compound that causes the body to relax the blood vessels. Unlike Viagra, watermelon doesn’t target one particular organ. Citrulline encourages blood vessels throughout the body to relax, which benefits the heart, circulatory system, and immune system. The watermelon rind contains more citrulline than the flesh. Because people don’t eat the rind, researchers are working to develop a new breed with higher citrulline concentrations in the flesh. In the meantime, enjoy a generous slab to enhance all of your bodily systems.”
Could watermelon become the new popular food to gift on Valentine’s Day? Only time will tell! Another two natural remedies that are beginning to spark conversation in the world of erectile dysfunction are red ginseng and pomegranate juice. The research backing these items remains scarce, but it’s possible that these foods and supplements could improve blood flow and help with erectile dysfunction.
We sell many different kinds of drug therapies for erectile dysfunction on our site. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch with us if you need assistance when placing your order or if you have any questions. We are happy to help!
Skye Sherman is a professional writer who has been published in numerous local and international outlets. She has also worked for a wellness company and is very familiar with the healthcare industry. She holds a degree from a Florida university.
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