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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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