Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects about 50 percent of men over 50 and could indicate a serious health condition such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or depression — highlighting the need for men with this condition to consult a urologist.
A recent, wide-ranging study found that ED was increasingly affecting younger men and was often associated with cardiovascular disease.
“ED constitutes a large burden on society given its high prevalence and impact on quality of life, and is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, dementia and all-cause mortality,” concluded the study, published in the medical journal, BJI International.
ED, or impotence, refers to an inability to either produce or maintain an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse and reports indicate that only about 10 percent of men seek treatment – largely due to the embarrassment of discussing their sexual health with a doctor.
Dr Odion Aire from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, said the main causes of ED were either organic (physical) or psychogenic (of emotional or psychological origin such as suppressed trauma or conflict), or a combination of both.
He said organic ED may be rooted in vascular, neurological or hormonal problems. The side effects of medication may also play a role, as may co-morbid diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and depression. Old-age, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, obesity and Peyronie’s disease — which manifests in an abnormal penis – may also be behind the condition.
“Sometimes there may be more than one underlying cause of ED. It’s important for men with ED to move past the embarrassment and consult a urologist as it may be treatable. The appropriate action or treatment will emerge after a consultation” he added.
He suggested that men with ED contact The Urology Hospital which comprises over 20 urologists under one roof and is the only urology centre of excellence in Africa.
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