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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 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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