No one wants to talk about male impotence. And because no one talks about it, many men worry that they’re alone in their erection problems. That is not the case..
It’s thought that up to 2.5 million men in the UK have some sort of sexual dysfunction at any one time.
The consultant's view
Consultant Urologist Mr Isa Edhem from The Duchy Hospital shares his advice on erectile dysfunction.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection suitable for intercourse. About 20% of men will suffer with erectile dysfunction at some point.
Common causes include heart disease (often relating to smoking and a poor diet), high blood pressure, diabetes, the use of anabolic steroids to build up muscle bulk, low testosterone levels, and stress.
Erectile dysfunction can put a huge strain on a relationship, yet half of all men ignore the problem!
What can I do to help myself?
Stop smoking, improve your diet by reducing fat and red meat intake, reduce your alcohol intake and exercise regularly. Ask your GP to check your blood pressure and also make sure you don’t have diabetes.
What treatments are available?
After a clinical assessment, options available for your erectile dysfunction will be discussed with you. These may include tablets, medicated pellets, testosterone if appropriate, mechanical devices or penile injections if necessary.
Erectile dysfunction can have both physical and psychological origins. We’ve put together our 10 top tips to avoid some of the most common causes. Looking after yourself could be the key to preventing impotence.
1. Eat well
Having a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to look after your health. A balanced diet can make you feel better both mentally and physically and can reduce your risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Studies have found a strong link between diet and impotence. Men who eat lots of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods and too much red meat, have fewer erectile problems.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity and its associated health issues are a common cause of impotence. Men who weigh within the healthy BMI range have less likelihood of sexual problems.
Read our 4 top tips to lose weight the healthy way
3. Keep active
As with eating well, exercising regularly will improve your overall health and help prevent physical issues that can lead to impotence.
Even a small change to your routine – such as taking a walk a few times a week – has been shown to improve symptoms.
4. Avoid too much alcohol
Many men will have noticed that a few too many drinks can affect their performance later that evening. But alcohol can also lead to long-term erectile issues. If you’re experiencing problems, it might be time to cut back.
5. Stop smoking
Smoking increases your risk of impotence. There’s a reason that’s printed on cigarette packets. If you’re having problems getting or maintaining an erection, smoking might be to blame.
Studies have shown that both non-smokers and ex-smokers are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than smokers.
6. Get a good night’s sleep
Along with diet and exercise, good sleep is one of the most important contributors to good health. Insufficient, disrupted or disordered sleep can all increase your likelihood of erectile dysfunction.
Read our top tips on getting a good night’s sleep
7. Look after your mental healthCommon mental health issues such as stress and anxiety can cause a variety of physical symptoms. Impotence – both temporary and long term – is one of them.
Meditation and mindfulness can help to de-stress and improve your mood. You should also make sure to do things that make you happy. Keep up with your hobbies, visit loved ones, or even just take half an hour to relax.
If your mental wellbeing is really suffering, speak to your GP or consultant.
8. Keep an eye on your blood pressure and your cholesterol
High blood pressure and high cholesterol have both been shown to increase the likelihood of impotence. If you know you have an issue with either, it’s time to take action.
We’ve got tips on lowering your blood pressure here, and advice on reducing your cholesterol here.
If you’ve never had your blood pressure or cholesterol tested, speak to your GP about arranging a test.
9. Check your medication
Certain prescription drugs have the potential to affect your erectile health.
If you think your medication might be causing or contributing to your impotence, speak to your doctor. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
10. Talk to someone
Sex can be an embarrassing subject to discuss, especially when it’s not going the way you want it to. But if you don’t talk about it, it might get worse.
Talk to your partner. Talk to a friend or loved one. Talk to a professional. If you are worrying about it and not doing anything, the problem won’t go away.
The consultant's view
Consultant Urologist Mr Isa Edhem from The Duchy Hospital shares his advice on Peyronie's Disease
What is Peyronie's Disease?
Peyronie’s disease is a problem resulting in a bend in the penis during an erection, which may cause difficulties during intercourse. Between 5-10% of men will develop Peyronie’s disease at some point. The causes of this condition are not fully understood at the moment.
What treatments are available?
If you have Peyronie’s disease your options may include mechanical devices, enzyme injections or surgery to correct the deviation. As a last resort, penile prosthesis surgery is available to address the problem.