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Erectile dysfunction: 6 myths debunked

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MYTH: There’s no cure for ED 

FACT: ED is a treatable medical condition. The key is establishing the cause of the ED as there are many options to address the problem. These include medications, lifestyle changes, self-injections, vacuum erection devices, penile implants, and surgery. For some it can be as simple as lifestyle changes such as losing weight and quitting smoking. Thereafter PDE5 inhibitors (PDE5I) are first line therapy for ED. In SA, three potent selective PDE5Is have been approved for the treatment of ED: tadalafil, sildenafil, and vardenafil.   

MYTH: ED doesn’t affect younger men 

FACT: Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, or heart disease may increase a man’s risk of developing ED. Smoking has also been found to be a risk factor, and some medications can cause ED as well. 

MYTH: ED is a normal part of growing older 

FACT: While it may be true that ED is more common as men age, that does not necessarily mean it’s part of the normal aging process and patients should just accept it as part of life. ED is an ongoing medical problem that can cause problems with a patient’s self-esteem and overall wellbeing. As such it should be treated regardless of whether it occurs when a patient is 20 years old, or 90 years old. 

MYTH: ED may be upsetting, but there's nothing dangerous about it 

FACT: While it’s true that ED itself may not be dangerous, it can be a sign of several underlying medical conditions that may be harmful if not treated. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine these can include anything from diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease to chronic sleep disorders, neurogenic disorders, or depression. Always encourage patients to consult their doctor to ensure an accurate diagnosis. 

MYTH: If you have trouble getting an erection, it's because you're not attracted to your partner 

FACT: ED doesn’t always have to do with a patient’s libido, psychological causes of ED can include anger towards a partner, anxiety, depression, or stress. ED can also be related to certain medications a patient may be taking or overindulgence in alcohol. Smoking can also impair a patient’s ability to get an erection. Furthermore, obesity, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol are just some of the many physical causes of ED. 

Myth: Only men feel the impact of ED 

While ED affects a man physically and psychologically, it is quite common for their partners to be affected emotionally. Women often suffer from low self-esteem and depression due to feelings of inadequacy and may internalise their partner’s ED experiencing guilt and self-doubt, even blaming themselves, believing their partner is no longer attracted to them. When self-esteem is impacted, it can cause difficulties in other relationships as well, including problems at work, with family, or with friends. 

 

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