Erectile dysfunction: Causes, effects and treatment

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection before and during sexual activity.

Today, ED is a much broader concept, which has physiological and psychological components, including not being able to sexually satisfy your partner, resulting in a dysfunctional sexual relationship.

  • Factors that lead to ED:

Smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high lipid levels and lack of physical activity are some common factors that lead to ED.

“I have noticed this condition to be more prevalent in urban settings, and contributing factors are smoking, pollution, stress, diabetes and obesity, which all increase the risk of erectile dysfunction,” said Dr Pradip Rao, Director & Head, Center for Advanced Urology, Global Hospitals Mumbai.

  • How big is the problem of erectile dysfunction among Indian men?

Doctors believe that ED is more common in urban settings when compared to rural area. Men are hesitant to seek help or even acknowledge that they have erection issues.

“Given the fact that we are the diabetes capital of the world, and that 50% of men with diabetes will develop erectile dysfunction, the number of men with organic ED is huge. Also, we still have many false beliefs about masturbation and semen loss that cause many young healthy men to develop psychogenic ED. A study we conducted in Gujarat showed that 40% of men at the age of 60 are sexually active, but by the age of 70, 90% of men are not,” said Dr Rupin Shah, M.S. (Surgery); M.Ch. (Urology), Consultant Andrologist and Microsurgeon, Global Hospitals Mumbai.

  • Some successful cases:

Dr Pradip Rao stated that most of his patients have been cured through oral medication.

While Dr Rupin Shah says, “One poignant instance involved a couple who had been married 15 years and had not been able to have intercourse! Their joy and delight when they succeeded and became parents was heartwarming.”

  • Psychosocial stigma and other issue related to ED:

Dr Pradip Rao: Lack of awareness is the biggest obstacle in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. ED is completely curable, with higher success rates seen in recent years. Advancing technology and drugs help treat the condition and ensure a better sex life for both men and their sexual partners.

Dr Rupin Shah: The very fact that patients approach us is a positive sign that they recognise there is a problem and are willing to seek help. The reality is that far too many people shy away from discussing anything of a sexual nature, and more so when it is the inability to perform sexually. I urge people to acknowledge the problem, because ED is common and the condition is entirely treatable, people should seek professional help.

  • Treatments available for erectile dysfunction:

Primary treatment: Counseling and oral medication.

Secondary treatment: Intrapenile injections.

Tertiary treatment: This takes place when both primary and secondary treatments fail. It involves the use of penile prosthetics, which, through the use of an artificial device, successfully helps achieve and sustain an erection.

  • Success rate of such treatments and safety:

“Most Indian men prefer oral medication and hesitate when suggested an alternative. However, all ED treatment options have high success rates and are extremely safe,” said Dr Rupin Shah.

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