BY GOKE AKINROGUNDE

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For men, the reality of the failure to achieve penis erection at will and when socially necessary could be so devastating to the concern person, since this is naturally perceived as a challenge to the very essence of masculinity and all the pride that goes with it. Notwithstanding this reality of failure of the penis to respond to sexual stimuli, especially at the point of need, I venture to plead on the side of caution against self-blame or taking extreme measures like suicide that sometimes occur in some cases of erectile dysfunction. 

Erectile dysfunction (layman’s term: impotence) is medically defined as “the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity.”

Now to details; the above definition might means that the male partner cannot have an erection when he tried to have intercourse, or that his erection is not firm enough for intercourse, or that he loses his erection soon after intercourse starts.  “Persistent” and “recurrent” problems with sexual intercourse might occur every time one tries to have sex, or only some of the time.

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In practice, I have also came across cases that has to do with selective erection failure, where the guy cannot just get it up when it comes to having intercourse with an established partner but had erection during sexual fantasies and sometimes with other women.

Seek professional help

It is important to note, and stress, that having symptoms of erectile dysfunction is not the end of the world; there is more to life than reducing its essence to one’s ability to start or conclude sexual intercourse effectively. At any rate, erectile issues in male are readily treatable these days with a variety of medications, surgical interventions and psychotherapies as applicable.

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However, before considering a treatment for erectile dysfunction, the concerned individual and the partner should be sure of the actual cause of the erectile dysfunction. So, it is better to see a doctor, who would be able to tell for sure what the problem is before prescribing an erectile dysfunction treatment. It is very important to also note that “experiencing occasional difficulties with achieving an erection does not necessarily mean one has Erectile Dysfunction” as a continuum entity, sometimes it might as well be a natural break for the penis, that soon start to function the next moment.

The truth is that many men have one or more episodes of being unable to have an erection probably due to fatigue, distraction, alcohol, over-excitement etc without developing erectile dysfunction. But a persistent pattern of difficulty is a cause for concern.

Telltale signs – a couple’s problem

A telltale sign may be that the man begins to avoid sexual contact or intimacy because he is unhappy with his sexual performance.  He may stop initiating sex, or ignore the partner’s hints or suggestions. Or he may become anxious during sexual encounters, and his anxiety makes it even more difficult to get an erection. Related to these is that depression, shame, embarrassment and frustration are also common feelings.

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It is very important to stress here that erectile dysfunction is a couple’s problem. Even though it is the male partner that has the physical symptoms, it affects the couple’s relationship, and is a problem for both partners.  Hence, if one of the sexual partners is concerned that there might be a sexual problem, it is worth following up with the other partner in order to take necessary steps to solve the problem.

Hence, in seeking treatment for erection-related issues, learning more about sexual health may be the first step in restoring ones sexual wellbeing vis-a-vis improving the quality of life and enjoying sex once again. It is thus important to note that treatments, which help one to experience the kind of satisfying intimacy one once had, can help restore confidence as well as one’s entire relationship with his partner.

Don’t suffer in silence

It is not out of place to feel a little uncomfortable talking to the doctor about erectile dysfunction. I noticed this with some patients but it is always a relief to fire the first shot and they are always happy for the bold step thereafter.

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Notwithstanding the above, keep in mind that one has as much right to ask for medical help for erectile dysfunction as you do for any other health condition like high blood pressure. There is no reason for sexual partners to suffer the effects of erectile dysfunction in secrecy. Erectile dysfunction is a condition that many doctors now routinely treat; meaning that the solution is just around the corner.

Commonly the general medical practitioner is usually the first healthcare professional one speaks to about impotence related issues. If the doctor of first call does not seem comfortable or interested in discussing erectile dysfunction, then see another doctor; note that this is not uncommon event with some conservative-minded doctors, who unduly mix their personal beliefs with their professional resource. Depending on your situation, the doctor may treat or refer you to the urologist (a surgeon that specialized in male genital and urinary problems), a sexual therapist or to other related specialists.

Another important point about discussing erectile dysfunction with a doctor is the fact that erectile dysfunction may have a serious underlying cause, such as undiagnosed diabetes, heart disease, or prostate cancer, which might be revealed with medical interaction. In other words, erectile dysfunction is probably the tip of an iceberg.

Treating erection problem

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Before starting any medication or other treatment for erectile dysfunction the following lifestyle modifications may be recommended where needed.

  • Exercising 
  • Dieting to reduce blood lipids (fats, cholesterol)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Managing stress and fatigue

Oral medication

These represent a relatively new field of treatments for erectile dysfunction. Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors are a class of oral medications commonly prescribed this day for erection failure. Examples here are sidenafil (Viagra), tadenafil (Cialis) etc. These medications are however best taken with appropriate medical guide and prescription.

Sex counseling/sex therapy

Consultations with a trained counsellor/psychologist may help identify, understand, and cope with sexual concerns. Specific techniques can help to remove stress from lovemaking, increase sexual stimulation, and enable one to focus on sensual pleasure and intimacy.

Penile implant 

This is an option for men with established erection issue for whom other treatments were unsuccessful. This is a device that is surgically inserted into the penis. The device is inflated when there is a desire for sexual intercourse and deflated as necessary.

Penile injection therapy

Medication that increases blood flow in the penis is injected by the patient into the side of the penis shortly before sexual activity.

Vacuum therapy
This procedure holds blood in the penis using a ring at the base of the penis.

Noteworthy here is the important public health message: erectile failure should be seen as a medical condition that can be managed effectively with appropriate professional assistance by those trained for the purpose. Don’t suffer in silence; don’t harm your being; seek professional help.



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