…puts marriages at risk
By Adedotun Ajayi
To many men, erectile dysfunction might sound like a death sentence because a man’s sexual health is very important to him. Some believe that it might even weigh more than wealth on a scale of preference when a study was conducted on how many men would sacrifice their manhood for sex.
The study which was conducted on social media revealed that many men baulk at the idea as they claimed that their manhood was an integral part of their lives that gave them happiness.
It therefore came as a shocking news when a health expert and founder of Paddy Paddy Wellness, Dr David Paddy, said that over 65 per cent of Nigerian men are at risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction at the age of 40 and above.
He attributed the situation to a lack of regular exercise, continuous consumption of processed foods, eating and resting patterns, among other unhealthy habits.
According to him, men who suffer from erectile dysfunction might be more at risk of stroke, heart disease and premature death.
”It is imperative for men to take action and tackle this issue head-on before it takes a toll on their overall health and well-being,” Paddy said.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to the inability of a male to attain or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse.
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes, a combination of physical and psychological issues cause erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Furthermore, erectile dysfunction (ED) has been regarded as age-dependent. It is estimated that the prevalence rate of ED ranges from 13 percent to 30 percent in men younger than 40 years, and the rate increases to 40–80 percent in men aged 70 years. ED not only significantly decreases the quality of life but also represents a critical indicator of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD).
However, some men resort to sex enhancement pills which contain mixtures of different herbal ingredients, and sellers often claim they will improve sexual performance.
There’s no medical proof that these kinds of pills do what they claim to, so one might want to think twice about buying and using them.
Speaking with The Hope, a gynecologist, Olumuyiwa Stools, said erectile dysfunction is common among men from age 50 but is hardly discussed because of stigmatisation.
Explaining, he said, “There are three things that could affect a male’s sexual performance and they have equal importance. Number one is the hormone. The hormone of the male is testosterone that is responsible for the desire to have sex and maintain an erection.
“Secondly, we have the blood vessels in the male genital organ, with arteries and veins and you have the nerves which carry the signals, and all these things need to be working perfectly for a man to have a good erection. But, if anything affects them, it can affect the sexual performance of a man.
“Whenever you have a combination of diabetes, high blood sugar, they can affect the function of the nerves in the genital organ and it could lead to erectile problems.
If you have problems with the blood vessels, it can lead to problems with sexual performance.”The Urologist also noted that obesity can affect sexual performance by damaging the blood vessels and decreasing testosterone.
“Obesity is related to poor management of sugar in the body, something we refer to as metabolic syndrome and can lead to diabetes which can affect the nerves.
“The important thing is for a man to see what can improve the functions of the hormones, nerves, veins and help reduce obesity.
Things that will make you healthier are generally good for sexual health. So, weight loss, exercise, eating the right food can help. Exercise reduces obesity which can affect hormones as well.
“What happens in men that are fat is that testosterone produced by the body can be converted by the fat cells into estrogen and it can affect erectile function, even the desire to have sex.
“When a man presents with this problem, you have to find out what is causing the problem. Sometimes, you can reverse it if addressed early enough,” he said.
Also, a health educator, Ayodeji Ayanleye, said at one point or another during a man’s lifetime, he, may have difficulty getting an erection. An occasional inability to have or sustain an erection doesn’t automatically signal erectile dysfunction (ED). ED occurs when difficulty engaging in sexual activity becomes painful or impossible.
Explaining further; “in many cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes includes heart disease, clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome which is a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol among others.”
“Your heart health and your sexual health are deeply connected. In fact, any condition that causes narrowing of the arteries can affect your sexual function and cause erectile dysfunction. “Heart disease, smoking, and high blood pressure are the most obvious contributors to erectile dysfunction.”
That means treating your high blood pressure and heart disease (and kicking that smoking habit, too) can do a lot to improve your sex life. “It’s safe to say that what’s good for your heart is good for your penis,” says Dr Ayodeji.
He also said; “the brain also plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction, like depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, including relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns.”
In the same vein, Olugbenga Akinola, another health practitioner, said Erectile dysfunction (ED) among young men is considered to be mainly triggered by psychological burden.
According to him; “Academic life is an important stage in a young man’s life, and this can lead to high levels of distress, affecting their quality of life and academic performance. Some studies have shown that mental disorders affect health dimensions such as physical, social, and environmental. However, few studies have explored how mental disorders can affect the sexual function.
Explaining further, he said “Sleep quality is an essential aspect of physical and mental health. It promotes well-being and prevents different conditions from depression to cardiovascular disorders.
Poor sleep quality can affect multiple and relevant processes. On the physical aspects, it may cause diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and even mortality. On the psychological aspects, it may lead to attention deficit, cognitive disability, and depression. Therefore, sleep quality is an important aspect in health.
The relationship between sleep quality and ED has been described in an increasing number of studies. It has been shown that ED can be caused by several sleep disorders, such as sleep obstructive apnea, insomnia, and nocturia. Poor sleep quality may alter testosterone and oxygen levels, with localized endothelial dysfunction. However, most studies have focused on middle-aged and older adults. Among the few reports in young men, one showed that 47 percent of medical students with sleep disorders experienced ED. As sleep is an important aspect in young men’s lives, there is a need to better understand the influence of sleep disturbance on ED” he said
Erectile dysfunctions and marital conflict are also cogent issues that goes together. Couples in this instance experiencing conflict due to ED needs to adopt their own coping strategies, a relationship therapist, Eniola Balogun advised.
Male sexual functioning is vital to the marital relationship. Lack of it can result in intolerable cohabitation or relationship breakdown, and could also cause infertility, infidelity, and arouse stigma in Nigeria, he explained.
“A husband’s sexual ability is crucial to the sustenance of the marital relationship. Religious leaders and family doctors often serve as mediators to husband-wife conflict management. Therefore, counselling is recommended in cases of sexual health problems. Husbands should be encouraged to seek treatment and share their sexual challenges with their spouse.
“Couples facing infertility may experience shame, especially in traditional African settings where the importance of masculinity and patriarchy remain strong and childlessness is greatly stigmatized.
“The understanding of coping strategies by female partners could guide in the counselling and treatment of men’s sexual health problems. Effective coping has the potential to lessen or prevent negative outcomes, and thereby could reduce marital conflict,” he added.