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Understanding Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Understanding Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Although men are reluctant to seek help for erection problems, these are much more common in the population than people think – and many cases are eminently treatable. One of the first research studies that drew attention to the prevalence of Erectile Dysfunction – or Impotence as it was called in those days – was the 1994 Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS).

Based on their study sample of 1290 American men, the researchers found that up to 40% of men in their forties admitted to having erection difficulties – and this figure rose to around 70% of men in their seventies. Today, thanks to the marketing of effective drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra by multinational pharmaceutical companies, Erectile Dysfunction (also known as ED) is very much in the news.

More and more men who feel they are suffering from this condition are now consulting their doctors about it. In the 21st century, ED is no longer a symptom that men (and their partners) suffer in silence.

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What exactly is meant by Erectile Dysfunction?

The best definition of Erectile Dysfunction is the persistent inability to attain and/or maintain erection adequate to permit satisfactory sexual intercourse. Basically, erection takes place because when a man undergoes sexual stimulation, chemicals are released by the body which cause the arteries supplying blood to the penis to dilate (enlarge) and so increase blood flow to the penis.

This results in the spongy tissues in the penis (called the Corpora Cavernosa) becoming engorged and turgid – and so the penis enlarges and becomes erect. In simple terms, erection is caused by an increase of blood flowing into the penis – so anything that reduces blood flow to the organ will result in inadequate erections.

What causes it?

This is why men with diseases associated with narrowed arteries – such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – are more at risk of suffering from ED. Says Dr Geoffrey Hackett, a specialist in sexual medicine from Birmingham in England, in an article in the British Medical Journal.

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“Erectile dysfunction is the manifestation of vascular disease in the smaller arteries and gives a two to three year early warning of myocardial infarction”.

In other words, a man who has ED is already having narrowing of his arteries, and if this is not detected and treated correctly, he is at risk of suffering angina or a heart attack in a couple of years.

What can be done about it?

The important principles of managing the condition are:

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  • If a man feels he is having Erectile Dysfunction, he should see his doctor and have an examination plus blood tests to check whether this is an early symptom of cardiovascular disease.
  • Once narrowing of the blood vessels is excluded (or treatment for vascular disease commenced) then medications to correct the erection difficulty can be prescribed.

Fortunately, ED is easily treated. Most men who suffer ED due to narrowed arteries will benefit from using one of a group of drugs known as Phosphodiesterase-5, or PDE5 inhibitors in short. The best-known being:

  • Viagra (Sildenafil) : Available on the market since 1998
  • Cialis (Tadalafil) : Available on the market since 2003
  • Levitra (Vardenafil) : Available on the market since 2003

In the less common situation where PDE5 inhibitors are ineffective in re-establishing efficacious erections, other techniques such as injections, vacuum pumps, surgical implants or a stem cell therapy may be utilized.

The take home message

Erectile Dysfunction is common, in most instances it’s treatable – and could be an early warning sign of developing coronary heart disease.

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Also, living a healthier life, full of exercise and following a healthy diet, has been found to have a huge role in the prevention as well as in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Featured photo credit: shutterstock via thumb7.shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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