Today we are talking about sexual dysfunction. Although this is an area that many women are comfortable discussing with their friends, it is an extremely sensitive topic for most men. Sexual dysfunction typically manifests in men as erectile dysfunction with very few men ever admitting to a struggle with this condition. To men, it is almost worse than the plague as it affects their core manhood.
What is sexual dysfunction?
- Dysfunction can be experienced by both men and women during any stage of normal sexual activity.
- For both parties, it can include performance, physical pleasure, arousal or orgasm, but for men, it is usually the inability to achieve and sustain an erection sufficient for sexual performance.
- Women tend to experience more a loss of libido or an inability to achieve an orgasm.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects more men that one would imagine, it is usually age-dependent, but other factors like chronic diseases, psychological state of mind and various medications can also have an influence.
- The most negative part of the problem is the impact it can have on relationships and especially on self-esteem.
Biological and psychological causes
Erectile dysfunction can be as a result of high blood pressure, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or simply the effect of ageing. The underlying cause of ED is very closely related to heart disease and often precedes a cardiovascular event by a few years, serving as an early warning sign for heart disease.
Achieving an erection requires coordination of various body systems, below are some of the potential causes of dysfunction:
- Heart disease – a causative factor in up to 80% of cases: atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries) impairs blood flow to the penis and high blood pressure damages the inner lining of the blood vessels. All of which contribute to the overall development of ED. Erectile dysfunction usually comes 3 to 5 years before a heart attack, so after ED is diagnosed, there is time to treat atherosclerosis and prevent a heart attack.
- Sleep apnea -Stopping breathing while sleeping causes low oxygen levels in the body and massive internal inflammation which contributes to the development of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a hidden epidemic with deadly consequences! OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway, which causes massive oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Declining hormonal levels - viz testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), as men age, testosterone and DHEA levels decline, leading to ED.
- Diabetes mellitus: As a chronic disease it can interfere with blood flow to the penis and cause nerve damage.
- Medication-induced ED: various drugs e.g. anti-depressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medication and various others can cause sexual dysfunction.
- Psychological causes: depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and various other conditions can contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction.
What are the treatment options?
There are various medications available on the market, but they are not recommended for men with heart disease, they offer only a temporary solution and could have negative side effects.
- At Health Renewal, the first step would be lifestyle and behaviour such as weight control, diet and regular physical exercise would be advised.
- Obesity nearly doubles the risk of erectile dysfunction and a healthier diet will reduce this risk.
- You will be screened for Obstructive Sleep Apnea which plays a major part in erectile dysfunction, due to the massive internal inflammation it causes of all the arteries.
- Bio-identical testosterone pellets are the mainstay of treatment for men with ED. They are completely natural, made on a patient-specific basis and biologically identical to the hormones found in the body. This dosage is compressed in a few pellets, the size of a grain of rice. These pellets are then implanted during a painless procedure under the skin, where they then slowly start to dissolve over a period of 3-6 months, to supply the body with constant optimal levels of Testosterone every day.
- If the problem persists after testosterone treatment, medication such as Levitra can be given to enhance the patient’s erection, provided they are suitable candidates and have no risk factors that would prevent usage.
- If medication is unsuitable, intracavernous penile injections can be used and patients are educated in how to self-administer these injections.
- There are various natural supplements that have shown efficacy in clinical trials that can be used to improve overall performance. These would include amino acids like L-Arginine and L-Carnitine, as well as various antioxidants and vitamins.