Erectile Dysfunction is one of the most common sexual problems reported. It isn’t a very unusual condition and could be affecting about one-fourth of the Indian men. Most people suffering from ED perceive it as an embarrassment and may be ashamed to discuss the issue even with their partners. In many cases, men are also prevented by their family members to talk about ED as it is considered a sign of weakness. As a result, they do not report their concerns to specialists. This also explains why no data is being collected on a large scale. While two or three episodes do not confirm sexual dysfunction, it is important to be aware of the range of factors that may be causing ED so that the issue could be resolved with a holistic approach. Below are the key determinants affecting men’s sexual health.
Erectile dysfunction could be an indicator of an underlying physiological condition such as heart problem, hypertension or neurological problem. Since sexual arousal is a complex process involving the brain, muscles and nervous system, any deterrence to either of these systems could be a cause of ED. For instance, hypertension could result in damage to arteries thus impairing the blood flow to the penile muscles. Similarly, nerve damage from Diabetes could obstruct the brain’s signal to relax muscles for an erection. With no other physical causes, age itself could be a warning sign and men above 50 years of age are predisposed to developing ED. Other risk factors include smoking, drug abuse, alcohol consumption or obesity.
Mental health is far more vital for sexual wellbeing than physical health. Mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress could inhibit the sexual drive in men thus causing a failed erection. When you are under stress, the brain releases stress hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol as the body’s defense mechanism. This could reduce blood flow to your penis and prevent you from having an erection. Psychological factors strongly affect sexual health. Many men also experience what is called “performance anxiety” due to low self-esteem or fear of underperforming. Stress could be triggered by work pressure, social conflict or Relationship issues with a partner.
While it is well established that mental illness could affect sexual health, it is also true that the treatment regime for these conditions could deter sexual performance. Medications such as anti-depressants or antipsychotics have been known to affect sexual activity as one of their underlying side effects. They are known to lower the levels of dopamine produced by the brain which acts as a sexual stimulant during the arousal process.
ED could be a warning sign of many degenerative disorders. Seeking help and opening up about ED could definitely help clear the stigma around it. Psychological counseling and a thorough diagnosis could help resolve sexual activity. Several treatments are being advocated these days. It is essential to pick wisely one that is proven and has permanent effects. Stem cell therapy is an upcoming natural treatment that is offering promising results to patients.