Erectile dysfunction (ED or impotence) is defined as the inability to obtain or maintain an erection. ED affects over half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 years old. June is Men’s Health Month – and our aim is to open up the dialogue around ED, we encourage men to discuss ED as too often this condition worsens with the fear of knowingly having the condition.
Ormiston Hospital’s expert Urologist and Associate Professor Kamran Zargar is an Associate Professor of urology and a leader in his field with a special interest in cancer treatment. “Erectile dysfunction is also an issue for men treated for with prostate and bladder cancer, however it is often overlooked during the course of cancer treatment. We need to highlight ED as important Men’s health issue and and appeal for better government funding for assessing and treating ED in Kiwi men”
Men who experience erectile dysfunction can experience either a gradual or sudden onset of symptoms. Sadly, a lot of men are reluctant to discuss ED, explains Associate Professor Kamran Zargar; “Patients often present to urologists for a non-ED related urological problem and will subsequently raise issues relating to on-going erectile dysfunction. I hope that we can inform men that ED is common and to encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctors and seek help in a timely manner.”
ED also signifies other important underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, making it important to discuss with a doctor. In addition, ED is also seen in men with untreated depression or anxiety disorder – an often unknown symptom.
“I want men to know that they can reach out about ED, that there should be no stigma in speaking about it. Just like how we equally encourage people to speak up about other conditions such as mental health,” says A/Prof Zargar.
90% of men with impotence (erectile dysfunction) have at least one underlying physical cause for their problem. A psychological component, often called “performance anxiety” is common, however a purely psychological problem is only seen in 10% of cases. Of the 90% of men who have an underlying physical cause, the main contributors are: Cardiovascular disease (40%), Diabetes (33%) hormone problems (e.g. high prolactin or low testosterone levels) and drugs (e.g. antihypertensives, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, heroin, cocaine, methadone) in 11%, Neurological disorders (10%), pelvic surgery or trauma (3-5%) and anatomical abnormalities (1-3%).
A/Prof Zargar encourages all men to discuss their concerns regarding erectile function with their GPs. “An initial family physician assessment may unmask important underlying medical conditions which can be followed up and easily managed in community. Improved lifestyle choices and reducing stress are important in treating ED,” says A/Prof Zargar. There are also a selection of ED specific medications which can augment other non-pharmaceutical interventions that can discretely help with the condition. The best first step is to seek help from your GP or you may wish to book in and see a Urologist at Ormiston Specialist Centre.
Discuss this issue with your mates this week, and encourage open and honest experiences around erectile dysfunction to help normalize the problem and treatment.