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The Loveline

Erectile Dysfunction & Sex

If you are looking for hard and fast erectile dysfunction facts, advice and treatment options, you have come to the right place

– so let’s get to it…

Communication is Key

When things aren’t rising to the occasion, the consequences can be simply devastating – for you and your partner.

If it’s not happening, it’s not the end of the world – or your relationship. It shouldn’t be. The prevalence of ED in our modern society should not be underestimated. There are so many stats relating to this issue and these figures are constantly rising (ironic).

What is important right now is to talk about it, because talking about how both of you feel about this “lack of action” will not only help bring down barriers but make you feel closer than ever before.

Do make sure to tell your partner how much you love and value her – and reassure her that your “down time” makes no difference to the love you have for her; that this in no way reflects on her femininity, and that you can and will get on top of this together!

Secondary to that is dealing with ED itself – you have a couple of choices: Talk to your GP to see what options you have and also if there are any underlying factors that are contributing to your own problem, or order some of our ‘magic’ blue pills – these guys will be your best friends! But we’ll talk about these choices a little later…

Keep It Close

The second key to keeping your relationship happy right now is to keep your relationship intimate by having lots of fun together. Sharing interests – movies, hobbies, sports or whatever else tickles your fancy – brings and keeps you closer, so make time to:

  • Be alone together to “kiss and cuddle”, watch a movie or sit and chat
  • Go for walks holding hands or, better still, arm-in-arm
  • Share candle-lit, romantic dinners and/or baths

Rise to the Occasion

The final, but by no means least important, key to keeping both of you happy is to adjust your sex life and set the right mood for the occasion.

Light some candles, fill the air with beautiful scents and romantic music – yes, do stick on that Barry White compilation (or any other love songs you both enjoy) – and TAKE YOUR TIME.

There’s no need to rush things, so relax, enjoy each other’s company and find a new way or two of pleasing and indeed satisfying each other without necessarily expecting full intercourse to provide the “big O”.

Why? Because doing this will leave your beloved feeling both desirable and fulfilled while simultaneously taking the pressure to “perform” off you – wins all round!

Deal with It

Right, let’s look at the choices you have for dealing with your inability to “rise and shine” …

We stated earlier that treating factors responsible for causing and perpetuating erectile dysfunction (ED) is at the very least as important as treating ED symptoms and that even if such symptoms have already been medically treated, all men suffering ED should therefore be assessed by medical professionals.

So, why is it is so important for men with ED to have medical assessments? And why is treating the causes and perpetuating factors of ED at the very least as important as treating the symptoms of ED?

The answer to both these questions is quite sobering: ED has by decades of intensive medical research been confirmed to frequently be a first indication of heart disease – occuring approximately 3 to 5 years prior to the point at which heart conditions would normally be diagnosed.

You know that saying “guilty until proven innocent”? Well, studies suggest that “every man with ED is a potential cardiac patient until proven otherwise” and that ED is not only a risk factor but significantly increases the risk (especially that of younger men) of developing heart disease.

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Yikes – Heart Disease?

Yep, it’s true – persistent failure to get an erection could indicate that you are at risk of sooner or later developing a heart problem, because the diameter of the arteries supplying the penis with blood is just two thirds of the coronary arteries’ diameter in the heart.

Cholesterol deposits, however, occur at the same level across the body. Symptoms will therefore occur much earlier within the penis – making it easier to spot heart disease, especially as men over 40 still expect their penis to perform at the same level as it did when they were 20.

Treating factors responsible for causing and perpetuating erectile dysfunction (ED) is at the very least as important as treating ED symptoms. Even if such symptoms have already been medically treated, all men suffering ED should therefore be assessed by medical professionals.

The Moral of the Tale?

Why? Because ED is often the result of underlying causes – including, for example, heart conditions, diabetes (which can make it 2 – 3 times more likely for a man to develop ED), low testosterone and prostate enlargement – that can be picked up during such an assessment. Obesity, some prescription medications and psychological problems (i.e. depression, anxiety, stress, etc.) can also lead to ED (learn more about ED causes).

So – What Can You Do? Change Your Lifestyle!

Every man with ED should attempt lifestyle changes including, for example, eating a varied, healthy diet; giving up smoking; cutting back alcohol consumption and, if they are overweight, losing weight.

Take it Up!

Getting regular moderate exercise (20 to 30 minutes at least 5 times/week) not only reduces the risk of heart disease but can also help reduce ED and improve response to medication. Don’t delay, get started today!

There are also some dietary supplements that can be effective in dealing with mild ED or used to enhance other medications’ effects in cases of severe ED:

  • L-Arginine enhances the natural erection process. However, a dose of 2 to 3 grams will be required.
  • Saw Palmetto can be used to improve urinary and ED symptoms.
  • The natural plant extract Yohimbine has been used to enhance erections for more than fifty years.
  • A daily dose of Folic Acid 5mg can enhance oral medications effects, especially in diabetes.
  • Studies have shown that Vitamin E is beneficial to the fertility of men both without and with ED medications.

There are many commercial preparations combining some or all these helpful supplements available – so don’t hang around down in the dumps, go get yourself that lift you need!

Cut it Down!

It has also been shown that reducing:

  • Your alcohol intake to a safer level of 14 units or less per week can improve ED.
  • Reducing levels of pornography (or, better still, avoiding it altogether) can improve sexual function, erections and orgasms in former high-level users.

So – cut it down or keep it down!

Give it Up!

Smoking is a major cause of ED and keeping up this bad habit will counteract all measures to treat ED. In a nutshell, keep lighting up and you will keep it down – so give up smoking today!

Recreational drugs (i.e. opiates, cannabis, etc.) can affect (usually by altering testosterone levels) your sexual desire, erections and orgasms – so if you value your sex life, give up the weed, man!

Lose it!

Being obese or overweight is associated with heart disease, diabetes and low testosterone, all of which are likely causes of ED. Studies have shown that losing weight can improve ED, although some medication may be required to help along the way. Ergo: if weight is keeping you down, lose it!

Option 2: ‘Magic’ Blue Pills

There are numerous ED medications on the market. Here are some of them…

Tadalafil/Cialis

PDE5 inhibitor Cialis (Tadalafil) is a long-lasting treatment that becomes effective within one hour and, potentially permitting greater spontaneity, stays active for as long as up to 36 hours. At 10 to 20 mg doses, it has lower headache and flushing rates, but higher indigestion rates. Approximately 5% of men taking this drug may also experience persistent back pain.

Taladafil can, at a lower 5 mg dose (which is also licensed as a treatment for urinary symptoms), be effective at times when “on demand” dosing was unsuccessful.

Sildenafil/Viagra

Shown to be effective in approximately 80% of men, Sildenafil (the active Viagra ingredient), the first PDE5 inhibitor to be licensed (1998), changed ED management forever. It was developed initially as a treatment for heart disease, but after the conclusion of medical trials, participating men refused to return unused medication because they had enjoyed the frequent erections they experienced during the trial.

Sildenafil works by relaxing and expanding blood vessels (especially those within the penis), which results in increased blood flow and consequently erection.

While it is recommended for Sildenafil (Viagra) to be taken approximately one hour prior to anticipated sexual activity, older men or men taking their pill before/after heavy meals obtain better results after 2 to 3 hours.

At doses between 25 and 100 mg, Sildenafil can work for as long as 8 to 10 hours, which means some planning (which some couples consider less acceptable) will be required.

Direct physical stimulation for the man is imperative for this treatment to work, with lack thereof being one of the most common reasons for the drug to fail.

Common, usually short-lived side effects include flushing, indigestion and headaches, as well as, in rare cases, temporary blue vision (or cyanopsia, a condition resulting in everything see having a blue tint).

Do Medications Really Work?

Yes, they do in most cases – and here are a few tips on how to get the best possible results when taking ED medications:

  • Take your pill on an empty stomach and do not drink alcohol with it.
  • Do not try to have intercourse for one hour (at least, for Sildenafil & Vardenafil) or two to three hours (for Tadalafil) after taking the pill.
  • Maximise foreplay/direct genital stimulation prior to having intercourse.
  • Try to have sex first thing in the morning, when your testosterone levels are usually at their highest.

If you are in a new relationship, you may benefit from trying it with self-stimulation first to build up your confidence before having sex with your new partner.

Do be patient

Although it does tend to work much faster in most cases, your treatment may take as many as 7 attempts before it becomes fully effective – and if success continues to evade you, check with your doctor whether taking your medication more frequently (even daily for a couple of weeks) is a viable option.

Should this still fail to produce, arrange to have your morning testosterone levels checked by a medical professional, because correcting these levels with the help of supplements may provide more satisfactory results once Sildenafil is reintroduced between 2 and 4 weeks later.

But – We Hear You Ask – Is Taking These Medications Safe?

PDE5 inhibitors like those mentioned above have excellent safety records. Initial Concerns regarding their safety have, in fact, been largely dispelled.

The physical exertion involved in sex is equivalent to that of climbing up a flight of stairs or walking a mile within 20 minutes. It is therefore hardly surprising that men suffering severe heart disease can run into problems when attempting what is undoubtedly an inappropriate effort for them.

Research does, in fact, suggest that PDE5 inhibitors are good for your heart. Considering that they increase the flow of blood to major organs and were, after all, initially developed as treatments for heart disease, this should not come as much of a surprise.

Finally – Relationship Issues

Relationship issues can also be a cause of ED. The thing to remember here is that ED medications cannot solve relationship problems. It is therefore imperative to discuss significant relationship conflicts with your partner and address them as soon as possible – if necessary, with the help of a trained sex therapist.

Not sure if your ED is due to psychological or physical causes or a combination thereof? Your GP can help you figure it out. Have a chat with them today!

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