Shubh Mangal Savdhan releases this week. The promos have everyone guffawing, passing snide remarks and sniggering. In the film, the protagonist (Ayushmann Khurrana) suffers from Erectile Dysfunction (ED) which threatens to sabotage his wedding. Despite all the laughs it has given us, it has also opened up a much-needed conversation about men’s sexual health issues.
In a country where any mention of penis, phallus, that-thing-between-the-legs takes place only in the context of sexual innuendos and boastful size comparisons, it’s difficult for men to have an open conversation about Erectile Dysfunction.
But ED is real and so is ignorance surrounding the subject.
So let’s decode the REAL health issues behind this very REAL health problem.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the inability to get and/or sustain an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse. Having erection issues at times doesn’t necessarily mean that you have ED. But, having consistent and repeated erection issues might require a visit to the doctor. Without proper treatment, ED can make sexual intercourse quite difficult.
ED can also happen despite having a healthy libido (sexual desire) when the body fails/ is unable to respond.
ED is often diagnosed when you have:
- Trouble getting an erection
- Difficulty in maintaining an erection during intercourse
- Reduced sex drive
Data suggests that ED is reported by 1 in every 5 men. Until recently, ED was thought to affect only older men but recent studies show that even younger men might have ED.
But what exactly causes this issue in men?
In older men, ED might be caused due to diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
As per WedMD, ‘other conditions that may cause ED include cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis. These illnesses can impair blood flow or nerve impulses throughout the body’.
In younger men, stress coupled with performance anxiety seems to be the most common cause of ED.
A stressed-out body produces high levels of cortisol which restricts the supply of oxygen to all organs and thus decreases the blood flow to the penis.
Speaking to The Quint, Dr Anshuman Agarwal, Senior Consultant Urologist with Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said:
Stress is a major cause of ED, especially in young adults. In many cases, they aren’t able to perform due to unrealistic expectations. Even lifestyle issues like smoking, excessive drinking and drug abuse can cause ED.Dr Anshuman Agarwal
These activities damage the blood vessels resulting in reduced blood flow to the penis. Doctors say that ED might also be caused due to side effects of certain blood pressure drugs and antidepressants.
According to the National Institutes of Health, only 4 percent of men in their 50s and 17 percent of men in their 60s experience total inability to have an erection. The percentage of complete ED increases from 5 percent to 15 percent as age increases from 40 to 70 years.
Dr Agarwal says that most of his patients are in their 30s and 40s. So, it’s not really restricted to any particular age group anymore.
Certain lifestyle changes can help in improving sexual function. Most doctors recommend certain lifestyle changes like:
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising more
- Losing weight
- Avoiding excess alcohol & substance abuse
- Keeping a check on your sugar intake
Sedentary lifestyle can be very harmful in such cases. So I advise men to stay fit, stay active and have a healthy lifestyle. It will help avoid many issues.Dr Anshuman Agarwal
It’s better to seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
Also read: Are Your Medicines Wrecking Your Sex Life?
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