It can interfere with your relationships, affect your self-image, and lower your quality of life.
The fact is, sexual dysfunction in men often results from a separate, underlying medical condition. Even if it doesn’t, your symptoms are likely to improve with treatment. The sooner you talk to your doctor, the sooner you can start getting better.
WHEN THINGS DON’T GO RIGHT
If you have symptoms of sexual dysfunction, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem in men of all ages, and you’re more likely to have problems as you get older. Here are the main types of sexual dysfunction in men:
- Erectile dysfunction, or ED. This happens when you can’t get an erection or can’t keep one long enough to have sex. Many things can cause ED, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Drinking alcohol excessively or smoking raises your risk for ED, and some prescription medications can cause it.
- Delayed or inhibited ejaculation. This occurs when you take a very long time to ejaculate, or it doesn’t happen at all. It can result from health problems such as a urinary tract infection, low thyroid hormone, low testosterone or injury to certain nerves. Prostate surgery can cause this condition and so can stroke. Your risk is higher if you are depressed or anxious about your sexual performance.
- Low sex drive (low libido). Decreased interest in sex can happen with illnesses such as cancer, chronic lung conditions or heart disease. It can also be a side effect of some medications or result from excess use of alcohol. Low levels of testosterone can also decrease your sex drive.
- Premature ejaculation. This is ejaculation that occurs too soon, either before penetration or soon after. It can happen if you’re anxious about how well you will perform during sex or if you are stressed in general. Some antidepressants can cause this condition.
TACKLE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS
Your doctor will start with a thorough assessment of your overall health. If you have an underlying condition that is causing your sexual dysfunction, the priority is to treat that problem.
Lifestyle changes can also help with ED and other problems with sexual function. For example, your doctor may recommend that you get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, reduce stress and avoid excessive use of alcohol.
Premature ejaculation and delayed or absent ejaculation often respond to counseling for anxiety, stress or other issues. If you’re taking a medicine that causes problems with ejaculation, your doctor may prescribe an alternative drug.
Low sex drive may improve with testosterone replacement therapy. It’s available as a cream or gel, a skin patch, or in an oral or injectable form. This therapy can also help if you are having trouble getting or maintaining an erection.
Erectile dysfunction can be treated in many ways, such as:
- Oral medications. Prescription drugs can increase blood flow to your penis so it can become erect. These include Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.
- Vacuum devices. These work by drawing blood into your penis to create an erection. You place a plastic cylinder over your penis and use a manual or battery-operated pump to create the vacuum. To maintain the erection, you place an elastic band over the base of your penis.
- Intraurethral suppositories. A similar medication can be administered via a suppository. You insert a slim applicator into your urethra (the tube that carries urine) to deliver the small suppository with the medication.
- Injections. You or your partner inject medicine directly into your penis to relax the blood vessels and allow increased blood flow, creating an erection.
- Penile implants. If other methods haven’t worked for you, your doctor may suggest this treatment. A surgeon places several tubes in the erection chambers of your penis. They are attached to a fluid-filled pump bulb that is placed in your scrotum. Squeezing the pump bulb inflates the implant and creates an erection, and you press a release button afterward to drain the fluid back into a reservoir in your lower abdomen. All these parts are completely concealed, and most men find them easy to use.
GET HELP FROM THE EXPERTS
If you have symptoms of sexual dysfunction, you need the best possible care from specialists who treat you with respect and compassion. That’s what you’ll get at El Camino Hospital’s Men’s Health Program. The experts there understand the impact these problems can have on your life, and they provide:
- A private setting where you can talk freely.
- Expertise to correctly diagnose your problem.
- Advanced treatments for a full range of conditions.
- Follow-up with your personal doctor to make sure you are doing well.
Make an appointment today to start improving your sex life, your relationships and your overall health. For more information or to make an appointment at the El Camino Hospital Men’s Health Program, call 408-866-3856.
This article first appeared in the November 2018 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.