Erectile Dysfunction: Myths and Facts

Sexual Wellness


ED is a complex problem with many different potential causes and there are a variety of effective and safe treatments. According to the College of Family Physicians of Canada, something gets in the way of the process that your body goes through to get an erection. This process involves the brain (which controls what you see, hear, feel, smell, and think), the nerves (which pass signals from your brain to your body), and the blood vessels in the penis (which open to allow blood to flow in).

Myths that persist about ED could be preventing you from talking to your health care provider about treatment options. Read on to learn the truth about ED.

ED can be a symptom of a physical ailment.
Fact. An erection involves many physical factors in the body: nerves, hormones, blood vessels, and the brain. Anything that interferes with these factors may cause ED, including diseases that damage blood vessels and nerves, and diseases that lower your level of testosterone. These diseases include diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypogonadism (a condition that leads to lower testosterone levels), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. Treating a physical cause may help mitigate ED.

There's no treatment for ED – I just have to deal with it.
Myth. A variety of treatments are available, depending on what is causing the ED. For example, if a medication you're taking for another condition is causing ED, your doctor may suggest changing it. Medications to treat ED include oral tablets, injections (into to the penis), or insertion of a pellet into the urethra that contains a hormone that helps relax muscle tissue and enable blood flow. Other treatments include counselling, hormone replacement therapy, penis pumps, surgery where injury has occurred, and penile implants.

Once you have ED, enjoying an exciting sex life is over.
Myth. ED affects most men every once in a while or for short periods of time. Approximately 40% of men over 40 will experience ED. Besides, a variety of medications today can be taken shortly before sexual activity, or once a day, enabling a spontaneous sex life.

Oral medication for ED gives you a constant erection for the length of its action.
Myth. In fact, taking oral medication can facilitate natural sexual experiences. In other words, an erection will only occur if you are sexually stimulated. You don't have to worry about a constant erection when you are not aroused. Rarely, a prolonged erection may occur. If this erection lasts more than 4 hours, you should contact your doctor immediately.

One treatment for ED is counselling.
Fact. Counselling is recommended for many ED sufferers and their partners because ED can have emotional consequences for both partners.

Your lifestyle choices can lead to ED.
Fact. Being obese and inactive can lead to not only ED, but also diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease which also contribute to ED. On the flipside, if you are obese and have ED, losing weight and increasing physical activity levels can improve symptoms. Smoking is also known to increase your risk of ED.

The best way to get the correct information is to ask your physician for the straight answers about ED. However, the best patient is an empowered patient, so do your own research using reliable sources.

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