Erectile Dysfunction is a surprisingly common condition amongst men of many backgrounds and ages. Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the condition, men often find it difficult or embarrassing to discuss erectile dysfunction openly, meaning that there are plenty of rumours and myths floating around the internet and beyond that need to be cleared up. Negative, unsubstantiated claims can quite easily contribute to the sense of discomfort and insecurity that men experience when confronting the topic, leaving many feeling inadequate and that they are entirely to blame, or are in some way unusual. This often results in men not wanting to visit their GP to discuss the problem, with an estimated three-quarters of ED sufferers going undiagnosed.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction quite simply describes being unable to achieve or maintain a strong erection for long enough to enjoy sex and ejaculate. Sometimes a man suffering from ED will initially be able to get an erection, but during sex some physiological or psychological factor prevents it from being sustained, but on the other end of the spectrum a man might not be able to get an erection at all when they desire to. Erections are caused by a surge in blood flow to the vessels in the penis, caused by sexual arousal in anticipation of sex. When blood fails to flow intensely enough in a sustained fashion to the penis then this is where a man cannot maintain the erection, and we will touch on why this occurs later in this article. But for now, let’s jump into our first myth, one of the most prevalent and damaging untruths surrounding ED.
Myth 1 – Only old men get ED
Many people assume ED to be an old man problem, something that happens when we get older and generally less healthy, and that doesn’t occur to younger men. As you may have guessed by now, it’s not that black and white: there’s no age at which you are suddenly likely or able to have erectile dysfunction. Many men in their 20s suffer from ED, with 1 study finding 8% of men between the ages of 20 and 29 to have suffered erectile dysfunction before. With this said, it is indeed true that you are more likely to have develop erectile dysfunction as you get older, with over half of men over 40 having experienced it to some degree, with the percentages increasing by about 10% per extra decade of life from here on. This is due to physiological changes associated with ageing, but the aggregate effects of smoking, drinking or being more overweight are likely to all contribute to increased difficulty in the bedroom.
Myth 2 – It’s all in your head
With erections being correlated to sexual desire, on the surface it makes sense that there must be something wrong mentally with your sexual impulses. This is rarely the case. We’re so used to being able to get it up just by thinking a certain way that it’s easy to assume you just need to think differently, but less than 20% of erectile dysfunction cases are linked to psychological factors; the majority of ED issues are due to some underlying physical factor that is preventing the blood from properly flowing to the penis even when you’re fully where you need to be mentally. With this said, if you have been unable to achieve or maintain an erection before, perhaps when you ha had one too many drinks, you may be worrying about not repeating this the next time you go to have sex, and this anxiousness and fear may contribute to you not being relaxed and overthinking the situation. If you have a physical condition like obesity that’s probably the root cause of your erectile dysfunction, heading into the situation with self-doubt and worry is unlikely to help the issue. Therefore, a combination of physical and psychological factors are usually present, but sorting out the physical will almost certainly lead to greater confidence, less anxiety, and increased chances of having success.
Myth 3 – If an ED medication doesn’t work for me, none will
You may have tried one erectile dysfunction treatment and it hasn’t worked to the degree you were expecting, and this may have put you off medication as an approach to solving the issue. However, despite the similarities in that all ED medication aims to increase blood flow to the penis, different treatments affect men differently, and what works for you may not agree with everyone. Thankfully, there are a variety of ED treatments on the market that contain different active ingredients, and come with their own benefits. Sildenafil is a common active ingredient found in Viagra, Viagra Connect and Kamagra, but which is also available to purchase as generic sildenafil. This is part of a category of drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, or PDE5s, and works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis to allows for blood to easily flow to it in the presence of sexual stimulation. They prevent the blood vessels from then becoming constricted, enabling you to maintain that erection for the full duration of sex. Interestingly, once you’ve climaxed or finished sex and lost your sexual appetite, your erection will go away as it would normally, so this image of a beaming, never-ending erection that you can’t get down is yet another myth. Another medication is Tadalafil, available as Cialis or the generic Tadalafil, and whilst it’s also a PDE5, it activates quicker and stays active for a lot longer (up to 36 hours) meaning that it’s better for more spontaneous sexual encounters where you prepare in advance and it will help you achieve your erection once you become sexually aroused.