Erectile issues are familiar to many men, especially those who are in their forties. In order to provide you with professional expertise in this field, we have interviewed Harvard doctor, Richard Elms, to find out how to cope with this disease.
Verichipcorp: What are the causes of weak erection and what can be done about it? Is weak erection norm or pathology?
Dr. Richard Elms: Decreased erectile function can manifest itself in different ways. This definition also includes erection insufficient for sexual intercourse, inability to maintain stable erection to accomplish it, and complete absence of erection, as well as low libido. From time to time, almost everyone is faced with weak erection. Weariness, anxiety, illness and scandals with a partner do not contribute to special mood for sex. There is nothing strange in the fact that a hefty dose of alcohol interferes with the process. But weakening of an erection as a systemic problem can be considered in case when out of four attempts to have sexual intercourse, one fails. It is impossible to ignore bad erection, and the matter is not only in the psychological side of the issue. Sometimes erectile disorder is the first sign of serious disease that is better to identify and begin to treat at an early stage.
Verichipcorp: Why do men have problems with erection?
Dr. Richard Elms: All the reasons due to which erection weakens can be conventionally classified in two groups: psychological and physiological. If we compare a man with a computer, the first implies a malfunction in the software, and the latter – in the hardware. Psychological reasons include stress of any origin, chronic fatigue caused by hard work and the so-called syndrome of expectation of failure, when faced with a weak erection once, a man begins to have a horror of a repetition of failure and thereby exacerbates the problem. Neurosis, depression and subdepressive disorder are bordered by physiological diseases, since depression is not always caused by psychological reasons, but by various issues in central nervous or endocrine systems.
The physiological causes of poor erection include diseases of cardiovascular system, disorders in the work of spinal cord and brain, diabetes, hormonal imbalance (primarily thyroid disease), side-effects of certain drugs, mainly medications for lowering blood pressure, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and hormones, as well as steroids, leading an unhealthy lifestyle (addiction to alcohol, smoking, misusing drugs, overweight due to malnutrition, a sedentary lifestyle that leads to circulatory disorders), diseases of the prostate gland, and many other factors. By the way, sometimes weak erection is the result of a combination of psychological and physiological problems, but this situation is rare. Such a mixed type accounts for only 5-6% of all cases.
Verichipcorp: What to do if a man feels his erection is gradually weakening?
Dr. Richard Elms: According to medical statistics at Harvard, problems with erection get younger from year to year. Today, approximately 9-10% of young men occasionally experience decreased erection, and after 40 years, every second complains about this trouble. However, only 25% go to doctors and initiate treatment. The majority prefer to cope with the problem on their own by means of alcohol, natural home remedies (which for the most part are either ineffective or dangerous) or even pretend that there is no problem at all.
If a man has erectile problems, the first step to solve them is not to look for advice on the Internet, but to make an appointment with an urologist or andrologist. As already mentioned, weak erection is a symptom of many dangerous diseases, from diabetes to cancer. A doctor will conduct a necessary examination, because the choice of diagnostic method depends on the general condition of a patient, his complaints, and anamnesis, and will identify the cause of weak erection. Perhaps, in addition to the therapy itself, a specialist will advise a man to reconsider his lifestyle – start moving more, change dietary regime, and give up bad habits. Despite all its banality, these are very practical tips, and just following them can significantly improve patient’s condition. There are specific methods to improve an erection, which can only be used after consulting a doctor.
Verichipcorp: You mean ED pills?
Dr. Richard Elms: Yes, I talk about the pills improving male sexual strength based on sildenafil, vardenafil or tadalafil. As a rule, such drugs improve blood supply to pelvic organs, increase blood pressure and make erection possible. You should know that these drugs do not treat erection, but only remove the problem for several hours. As soon as the pill’s action is over, the problem will return. Many patients note that resistance to these pills develops over time – that is, the effective dose has to be increased over time to obtain results. Plus, drugs to enhance potency have an impressive list of contraindications, they can be especially dangerous for hypertensive patients, and they also have side-effects. You cannot take them without consulting a doctor.
Verichipcorp: So does it mean that traditional home medicine should be avoided?
Dr. Richard Elms: People all over the world trust in traditional medicine. Some recipes are really not meaningless, since the herbs that are used in traditional medicine contain useful substances. But it is difficult for a layman to distinguish an effective recipe from an absolutely ineffective herbal collection. In addition, some methods can be dangerous. Folk remedies for male strength include decoctions and infusions of ginseng, lemongrass, thyme, hawthorn flowers, extracts from ginkgo biloba and yohimbe, as well as some other herbal preparations. Some herbs improve blood circulation and strengthen cardiovascular system; others contain high doses of zinc, necessary for men’s health. They should not be considered as the basis of treatment; nevertheless, herbal decoctions are inferior in effectiveness to modern medicines, they are not without side-effects and can cause allergies and give undesirable reactions in combination with medicines. Consult a doctor and if he does not find any contraindications, take them as adjunctive therapy.
When resorting to folk remedies, you should buy them at a pharmacy where all products are certified. Asian miracle pills from China and Thailand are pure quackery. No one knows what they are made of, and to date, there have been many cases of severe poisoning with such pills.
Verichipcorp: What are other approaches to ED treatment that are worth mentioning?
Dr. Richard Elms: First of all, these are medicines that improve blood circulation and normalize blood pressure, anti-inflammatory drugs, and in case dysfunction is caused by psychological reasons – sedatives. The choice of drugs depends on the cause of the problem, and a doctor will treat the underlying disease.
Physical education is also an effective way to improve an erection. Physical activity normalizes the functioning of heart and blood vessels, increases the level of endorphins (substances responsible for the feeling of joy), and helps to reduce weight. Prostate massage is also an effective method of treating weak erection, if the problem is precisely in this organ. Inflammatory processes in the prostate gland are a very common problem, and prostate massage helps eliminate them.
To temporarily solve the problem, a man can apply vacuum-constrictor therapy, which is a method of preserving erection using a vacuum cylinder. The cylinder is put on penis and then air is pumped out of the device. Vacuum considerably improves blood supply to cavernous bodies. After achieving erection, an elastic ring is put on the base of penis preventing blood from outflowing. It is important to remember that the ring should not be worn for more than half an hour so that blood does not stagnate.
In recent years, shock wave therapy has been used to treat low potency. Do not be afraid of the name – this is a completely painless non-surgical method in which sound waves of a certain length act on the tissues. As a result, the scar tissue that has arisen due to impaired blood flow is absorbed, as well as the natural mechanisms of vascular restoration. After a course of treatment, the blood supply to penis improves, the tissues become denser, and erection is persistent.
Surgery is a last resort, but in some cases this is the only way to restore potency. The operation is performed to restore damaged arteries and block veins through which blood is removed from penis.
Verichipcorp: The list of ED treatment measures is quite impressive. But what we, men, can do to protect ourselves from any erectile issues?
Dr. Richard Elms: Weakening of an erection over the years can be completely avoided if a man follows simple rules. First, it is healthy eating. Excess weight is an extra load on heart and blood vessels. Therefore, people suffering from overweight have weak erections more often than slender ones. Include foods rich in zinc and vitamin E in the diet, because they are necessary for normal functioning of the reproductive system. Second, one must give up smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking has a detrimental effect on blood vessels, and it doesn’t matter if a man smokes cigarettes or a pipe. A lot has already been said about the dangers of alcohol. However, a glass of good red wine will not hurt; on the contrary, experts have already shown that in moderate quantities, red wine has a beneficial effect on organism. But the crucial word here is moderation. And this means that one glass will have to be limited. Third, a man must sleep well.
Constant lack of sleep is characteristic for residents of cities, it affects not only potency, but also leads to chronic fatigue, metabolic disorders, depression, heart disease and neurosis. Fourth, a an must avoid stress by all means. It’s almost impossible to avoid it, but one should react to everyday troubles more calmly. Psychotherapy, yoga and meditation classes will help here. The rejection of stimulants such as coffee and energy, especially in the afternoon, as well as an established regimen will also help reduce nervousness. Fifth, health care is a key factor. One should not neglect regular visits to a urologist, even if there are no problems. Visits to this doctor should be at least once a year. Preventing erection problems is much easier than treating them. The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, weak potency is treatable. 95% of men who have consulted a doctor on time return the joy of a full sexual life after undergoing treatment.