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The Hardline

Erection Facts: All About Erections & More.

Learn all about erections, how your ‘downstairs department’ works and what can be done when it doesn’t.

What is Erectile Dysfunction and is it age-related? 

Achieving and maintaining an erection is an incredibly complex process that can be easily disrupted by psychological factors and varying disorders affecting the hormones, nerves and blood vessels responsible for supplying blood to penis muscles. Formerly known as “impotence”, ED is a man’s inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activities. In many cases, men experience ED as a result of two or more of these disruptive issues, which can make identifying a singular cause both difficult and unrewarding. Traditionally, ED was considered a problem affecting older men but it is now clear that up to 40% of Britain’s men under the age of 40* will experience it at some point or another. Why is this happening?

The Pressure to Perform

The answer is quite simple: younger men are under greater pressure to perform. What’s more, this pressure is often accompanied by the unrealistic expectations promoted via the Internet, TV, social media and magazines. To really put the spanner in the works, younger men also frequently expect to give “peak performances” at all times – including after nights of heavy partying, which are often associated with recreational drugs and/or excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive pressure, unrealistic expectations, drugs and alcohol combined form a lethal cocktail that can lead to disaster even for the youngest, most virile of men – and once the “unspeakable” has happened, worry about whether it will happen again adds yet another toxic ingredient to the mix. This can ultimately catapult you into a vicious pressure-worry-failure cycle that will become increasingly hard to break out of.

Can ED Be a Psychological Problem?

It can indeed. Psychological factors are, for example, frequently suggested when:
  • ED occurs intermittently or just in certain situations. There may, for instance, be an improvement during a holiday or some other time of reduced stress. Or things may get worse when you are experiencing relationship problems or more stress than usual.
  • A full erection can be achieved but not maintained until completion. Here, psychological issues may be responsible especially if morning or “dream” erections are preserved.

Morning & “Dream-Time” Erections

Morning and night-time (“dream”) erections are your body’s way of preserving your penis’ muscle by providing oxygen to it. Losing that “morning glory” and/or night-time erections can strongly suggest low testosterone levels or a significant medical problem, especially if this loss is accompanied by a loss of erotic thoughts and sexual desire. Such problems must be investigated by healthcare professionals, so don’t ignore them and suffer in silence – see your doctor ASAP!

* Erectile Dysfunction, 2018, Hadley Wood, MD & Milton Lakin, MD

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ED Causes & Consequences

So, what causes ED and what are its consequences, especially for comparatively young men? Well, the potential causes of ED are both numerous and varied, ranging from cardiovascular and other physical problems to medication-related and psychological issues.

Taking testosterone supplements or body-building drugs even for just a few months can, for example, cause ED by interfering with your body’s natural testosterone production. Vitamin deficiencies, recreational drugs and excessive alcohol intake; obesity, smoking and pornography can also all contribute to ED (Learn More).

For younger men, pornography can also frequently become a “sex substitute”. When it begins to take up several hours every day, it can reach a point where it could be labelled as an “addiction”.

Excessively masturbating to pornography leads to progressively stronger physical and visual stimulation levels being required to get the desired results. This can lead to failing sexual relationships as partners who can reach those continually increasing, high tactile and visual expectations are very rare indeed.

Heart Disease

Men trying to ignore ED should also remember that it has been confirmed by decades of extensive medical research that ED is frequently the first sign – occurring between 3 and 5 years before heart disease would under normal circumstances be diagnosed – of a heart condition.

While this predominantly happens in men older than 40, it is therefore important to see your GP as soon as possible – regardless of your age – if you experience ED, just to stay safe.

When is it Time to Consult a Doctor?

Embarrassment unfortunately often prevents men from seeking professional assistance, with many men waiting way too long before they “pluck up the courage” to see their GP. On average, British men, do in fact, currently suffer ED for almost 3 years before seeking the help of medical experts. In some cases, this “long wait” even prevents men from seeking potential relationships to start with.

The problem is, the longer you ignore the issue, the harder it becomes to treat. There is certainly a lot of truth in the old saying “use it or lose it”! To make matters worse, certain Internet dating practises and sites can put vulnerable men under even greater pressure.

Unfortunately, men tend to be extremely backward in coming forward when it comes to seeking the medical profession’s help in general. All too often, they prefer to look for help on unqualified, non-professional Websites – which sadly often leads to misdiagnosis and frequently counterfeit and/or potentially dangerous “medical” treatments.

Persistent loss of spontaneous and morning erections should never, ever be dismissed as being simply down to stress or normal – it should be investigated by a doctor as quickly as possible.

Sadly, by the time most men decide to get help, the psychological, physical and relationship issues causing or resulting from their condition are much harder to treat. Don’t do this to yourself – see your GP NOW!

A Final Question…

Before seeing a doctor, many men wonder whether their ED is mild or severe; something that will eventually sort itself out or something to worry about.

This, quite honestly, is partly a question of perspective. A younger man developing a new relationship or planning to start a family, for example, would most likely consider the ability to have erections a high priority – in which case “mild ED” could be seen as “catastrophic”.

In comparison, an older gentleman in a long-standing, well-established relationship with a partner who is now also less interested in sex could well consider and tolerate “severe ED” as a “mild problem” for many years without ever seeking help.

In a nutshell, it is not whether ED is considered mild or severe that is important but the impact it has on you and your relationship.

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