According to a recent study, India is said to be the impotence capital of the world. Yet most of us shy away when we hear the word erectile dysfunction and avoid indulging in conversations around the topic. Impotence also commonly called erectile dysfunction is a lot more common among men than assumed. In spite of this, erectile dysfunction is considered a taboo and remains undiagnosed and untreated. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain a penile erection which leads to unsatisfactory sexual intercourse.
In India, people usually do not perceive erectile dysfunction as a medical disorder but as sexual incompetence and most often it becomes the reason for disturbance of balance and harmony in a relationship leading to self-doubt and depression. Men who have erectile dysfunction generally tend to shy away from accepting the condition and start avoiding intimacy completely which might lead to frustration. This is quite unfortunate because erectile dysfunction is a medical condition that can be easily treated. What we need is the right amount of awareness on the causes, symptoms and treatment options along with the right lifestyle changes to help manage the condition. There are certain myths surrounding erectile dysfunction as well that need to be debunked for an accurate understanding of the condition and its management
Myth 1: Erectile dysfunction is not a medical condition
Erectile dysfunction does not occur just because the man is not interested in sex or he is not capable of having sex. There could be medical reasons behind the condition. Cardiovascular disease is one of the many reasons that cause erectile dysfunction. It can also be caused due to high blood pressure, cholesterol, clogged blood vessels, diabetes, alcohol, smoking and low testosterone.
Myth 2: Erectile dysfunction can be treated only with pills and supplements
Oral medication is usually the first step, but they may not help everyone. If an individual does not respond to oral medications, options such as vacuum erection devices, penile injections and penile implants can help treat erectile dysfunction. However, it is important to consult an andrologist or urologist on the best possible treatment depending on the cause.
Myth 3: Erectile dysfunction is not caused due to psychological reasons
Depression, anxiety, stress are few of the reasons for erectile dysfunction. This is because the brain plays a key role to trigger an erection. Problem in a relationship is also one of the psychological causes of erectile dysfunction.
Myth 4: Erectile dysfunction only affects older men
While erectile dysfunction is common in men above the age of 45 years, younger men are also prone to the condition.
Myth 5: Erectile dysfunction is not dangerous, and it need not be treated
Although erectile dysfunction is not dangerous it could be an early warning sign of an underlying health condition like heart problem or diabetes. Therefore, it is important to get screened immediately on experiencing symptoms.
Myth 6: You cannot prevent erectile dysfunction
One of the best ways to prevent erectile dysfunction is by living a healthy lifestyle and managing existing health conditions that one might possibly have. Regular exercise, limiting the consumption of alcohol, quitting smoking and getting help for anxiety and depression are a few ways to prevent erectile dysfunction.
Myth 7: Erectile dysfunction only affects men
Yes, while erectile dysfunction does effect men it also impacts the women in the relationship. As per the findings of a recent survey, 56 per cent of men would like to discuss erectile dysfunction with their partners to fix their relationship while 28 per cent of women might consider separation if their partner does not take any corrective measure for erectile dysfunction.
So, it’s time to open up and seek medical care at the earliest to prevent undue complications.
(The author is consultant andrologist, department of urology, NU Hospitals and NU Fertility. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Outlook Magazine.)