Ask Dr. Ziggy: What to Do About Erectile Dysfunction
“Has it ever happened to you?” John asked as we were in the process of getting our bags ready for our next Caribbean vacation. “What do you mean?” I answered back. “Well, you know, everything is running smoothly, you’re ready for the final plunge when suddenly it just 'deflates.’ It’s embarrassing.”
In the business, we call that Erectile Dysfunction, that time when your penis will not rise along with you no matter what you do to it. Having erection trouble from time to time isn't necessarily a cause for concern. I have no reassuring words. It will happen to many men over fifty at some point and time during their sexual activity. It is more of an incidental or temporal thing, even though it seems like the catastrophe of a lifetime.
Since erections involve a circulatory response, keeping your circulatory system in good working order improves having erectile function. If it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your penis. Exercise regularly and keep off those pounds.
What is ED?
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. Sometimes, a combination of physical and psychological issues causes 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.
The penile erectile tissue, specifically the cavernous smooth musculature and the smooth muscles of the arteriolar and arterial walls, plays a key role in the erectile process. Sexual stimulation triggers the release of neurotransmitters from the cavernous nerve terminals. This results in relaxation of these smooth muscles and an erection will occur.
Symptoms of ED
Erectile dysfunction symptoms might include persistent:
- Trouble keeping an erection
- Reduced sexual desire
If you’ve been having difficulty with your erections, talk to your doctor about your current medications and symptoms (how often, only during partnered sex, or all the time, etc.). Some medications that cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect have equivalents that don’t cause it. Your doctor won’t know to try you on a different regimen unless you tell them about your symptoms.
ED Triggers & Risk Factors
Nevertheless, the brain, your biggest sex organ, plays a key role in triggering the series of physical events that cause an erection, starting with feelings of sexual excitement. Several things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication, or other concerns
Various risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
- Medical conditions: particularly diabetes or heart conditions
- Tobacco use: restricts blood flow to veins and arteries. It can, over time, cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction
- Being overweight: especially if you're obese
- Certain medical treatments: for example, prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer
- Injuries: particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
- Medications: including antidepressants, antihistamines, and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions
- Psychological conditions: such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Drug and alcohol use, especially if you're a long-term drug user or heavy drinker
Complications resulting from erectile dysfunction can include:
- An unsatisfactory sex life
- Stress or anxiety
- Embarrassment or low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
So, how do we get the mast upright and the sails flowing back again?
The best treatment for ED is the one that is best for you. These days, it is easy to obtain prescriptions of the most common ED medications from your physician. Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis(tadalafil) are the most prescribed and are equally safe and effective. In most cases, lifestyle and cost will help you decide between them.
Exercises to help with your ED:
A) Do you know about the Kegel muscles? Your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you clench to keep yourself from peeing) are involved in the erectile process. Clench and hold these muscles for about ten seconds a few times each day to build a strong, healthy pelvic floor. You can do these exercises anywhere at any time without anyone around you noticing. This makes for a great way to prepare for your fucking vacation in the middle of your next boring work meeting.
B) If you have access to an adductor/abductor machine, use it regularly. It will help with your ED situation plus will make your erections more rigid satisfying to the ladies.
C) Maintaining a flat core is important, so get those sit-ups and planks going soon.
Finally, the nutrients in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes help improve blood flow throughout your body — including your penis. And don’t forget that blood flow to the penis is one of the keys to healthy, consistent erections.
Thank you for reading.
This article originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.