Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, remains one of the most common yet least understood of medical conditions. Twenty one years after Viagra’s FDA approval, ED continues to be the elephant in the room for men of all ages.
Men experiencing ED too often know little to nothing about its causes and treatments. Not knowing where to turn for help, men needlessly suffer in silence or rely on “Doctor Internet” and health counter cures. Feeling alone and ashamed, ED affects both men and their partners.
There’s no better time than now -- National Men’s Health Month – for men to go beyond embarrassment and talk to a urologist, a medical doctor who specializes in health problems of the urinary tract and male reproductive organs.
When they do, these men will learn they are not alone. ED is widespread and impacts men of all ages. It is not, as many assume, just an “old man’s disease.”
Who Suffers from Erectile Dysfunction?
Approximately one in five American men aged 20 and older suffers from some degree of ED. More than half of men over age 40 have experienced ED, which increases with age. And those are just the men who will admit to it on a survey. ED may not be inevitable but ranks close up there with death and taxes.
Getting help could save more than your relationship. It can potentially alert you and your doctor to underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
There may be no single cause of ED, but rather a host of physical and psychological reasons ranging from diabetes, high blood pressure, neurological disease, prostate and hormone problems to cardiovascular disease.
Lifestyle -- being overweight, stressed out, smoking, drinking too much or using recreational drugs -- also plays a leading role. No wonder over 30 million American men suffer from ED.
ED is more than just a medical problem. ED destroys confidence and deeply affects relationships. The psychological side effects include fear of intimacy, depression and anxiety. The cruel irony is that worrying about ED kills natural erections, a vicious Catch-22.
Highly Effective Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction
Today, however, there are highly effective treatments that vary according to the cause of ED. Options for ED can be as simple as taking better care of your heart and vascular health by eating a nutritious diet and exercising. Effective medical treatments include medications, hormonal therapy, vacuum devices, suppositories, injection therapy and surgery.
Because there is no one-size-fits all treatment, the goal is to holistically match the right treatment to each patient. ED products advertised on the Internet or in stores may not always be safe or effective. If you don’t trust the guy at the supplement counter with your heart meds, why would ED pills be ok?
About Dr. Hong
This article first appeared in the Arizona Republic newspaper June 1, 2019. Y. Mark Hong, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Phoenix native and specialist in men’s health. Dr. Hong attended Stanford University Medical School and completed his urology residency at Harvard Medical School. Learn more about Dr. Hong here and contact us!