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Erectile Dysfunction: The Human Side and Help That is Available

Impotence affects over 30 million men and their partners. Impotence is a problem that can be devastating, not only to the man, but also to his partner. It is difficult enough facing the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. However, having to worry about a possible impotence or erectile problem makes the whole situation more complex, difficult and overwhelming.

I hope that this information will provide encouragement to all those men who have been afraid to seek help for erectile dysfunction (ED.) Even if you have already asked your doctor for help and have not gotten an answer, don't be discouraged. Help is available. There is a solution! Almost 100% of male erectile dysfunction problems can be successfully diagnosed and treated.

The most important message is that impotence, the inability of a man to achieve and maintain an erection suitable for intercourse, is one of the few diseases that can almost always be successfully treated. These are exciting times for the impotent man and his partner. In 1996, two new medications received FDA approval for marketing to the public. In 1998, Viagra received FDA approval and changed the way we look at the issue and talk about erection problems. Viagra made it OK to discuss this devastating problem. Numerous other medications are undergoing investigation and are on the drawing board. Impotence can be treated and fixed! There is hope - Prosvent reviews.

Impotence Is the Unspoken Topic

Finding a doctor often can be a difficult process for men suffering from ED. Men generally do not talk about private issues. They especially do not like to talk about erectile problems. Many physicians are not aware of the different treatment alternatives and do not feel comfortable treating impotence. Also, doctors frequently don't look at ED as a medical problem when they are taking care of men suffering from medical issues such as heart attack, hypertension, diabetes, etc..

Impotence is not a typical subject one discusses with another person. It is difficult for the patient and difficult for the doctor. Physicians frequently feel uncomfortable talking about this problem. Doctors don't have the time or emotional energy to get involved in the treatment of impotence.

A man finds it much easier to tell his work associates or a family member that he has been diagnosed with the prostate cancer or had a heart attack, than telling them about an erectile problem (look more choleslo). Impotence is a taboo subject in our society. However, ED or impotence, affects every part of a man's life. Impotence is critical to a man's self-image.

The erectile function is extremely important in our society. Sex has gone from being the way of carrying on our species, by having children, to being the way we express ourselves as accepted men and women in our society today. In a way, sex has become a way of identifying and establishing ourselves in today's society. We are one of the few species of animals that has sex for pure pleasure. Excluding the dolphins and man, every other specie has sexual relations only to reproduce their off-spring.

Delay in Seeking Treatment

Most men think their erectile difficulties will be a fleeting problem that will go away on its own. They are told that it may take up to a year for their erectile activity to return following radical prostate surgery or radiation. Frequently, the erectile function will improve; however, impotence following surgery for cancer of the prostate may be permanent due to nerve or vascular injury.

The penis is a vascular organ that requires regular blood flow or "exercise". There is something to the statement, "use it or lose it!". Normally men experience nocturnal or night-time erections while they are sleeping. They may experience 3 to 5 erections associated with REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. These erections may last up to one hour or more. They are important for oxygenating or exercising the penile erectile tissue.

Research by Dr. Irwin Goldstein of Boston University has shown that men who experience these night-time erections have more smooth muscle in their penises, which is necessary to trap blood in the penis during the erection process. Men who do not achieve night-time erections, may have the smooth muscle in their penis replaced with collagen or scar tissue. The collagen is not able to trap the blood in the penis, and thus the man will experience erectile failure. This is especially common following injury to the nerves and blood vessels of the penis associated with the treatment of prostate cancer.

There can also be psychological impotence associated with having cancer of the prostate. Following the diagnosis and/or treatment, many men experience fear of the illness and their own mortality. They may be depressed and really not be able to perform sexually. Men suffering from depression are at 4 times greater incidence of impotence than men without depression. Men with hypertension and diabetes are at 2 times greater risk of developing ED.

Most men expect their bodies to respond like machines. They may be fearful to even pursue sexual contact following their treatment for the fear of failure or the possible injury to the treated area. He may be embarrassed about possible side effects, like urinary incontinence.

Men are scared and may actually avoid sexual contact. Even for the man who still has some function, he is fearful of possible failure and actually may develop Psychological Impotence which is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection due to anxiety or stress associated with the sexual act. With fear, our bodies secrete adrenaline which is necessary for our survival in case of emergency.

Adrenaline causes increased blood flow to the vital organs necessary for survival. There is increased blood flow to the heart, brain, and muscles. Our hearts pound faster and stronger, we become more alert, and our muscles get the necessary blood flow to deliver oxygen so that our body can respond to the danger and the increased demand put on them. At the same time, blood is shunted away from the non-vital organs such as our stomach, intestines, and penis. Though these organs are important, they are not vital for the immediate survival of our species. Therefore, we actually experience a physical response from a psychological event.

Moreover, after experiencing erectile failure, the man is almost expecting failure the next time he tries to engage in sexual activity. The man hopes the problem will get better on its own. At times he may become his own worst enemy. By delaying treatment a small problem can become much bigger and more difficult to treat. At some point in time, the man will expect to fail on every attempt at sexual intercourse. At this time the problem becomes much more significant.

Fearful of Treatment Options

Every man wishes that there was a magic potion, lotion or pill he could take which would reinvigorate his sexual appetite and ability. If this type of medication is ever discovered there will be an acute shortage immediately because even normal functioning men would want to buy it to improve and insure their sexual functioning.

From early times, there has been tremendous concern by men about their sexual functioning. The search for the magic potion or cure has been a top priority. Ginseng tea has been touted as a sexually enhancing brew. The rhinoceros was almost hunted to its extinction in the 15th century for its horn. The Chinese thought the ground up horn offered potent strengths and qualities to whoever took it. Unfortunately, none of these things help very much. The magic potion still eludes us.

With the drug Viagra, we have opened the door of maintaining sexual vitality throughout our lives. Viagra is not an aphrodisiac, but it is a medicine that helps to assist and maintain blood flow to the penile tissue. Prior to Viagra, when patients were told of the different treatment options, they usually were not pleased with their choices. A typical patient comment explains what patients were told. "I was told that I needed an implant. I felt that this was too drastic a step and I sought help elsewhere. I was happy to find out there were other options. I received a full work-up and found that medication could help me." Other patients are not pleased with the thought of having to proceed with penile injection therapy.

Whatever the treatment, patients must realize that ED can be successfully treated, read They should investigate the problem, get the advice of a qualified medical practitioner who is knowledgeable about erectile problems and have a proper diagnostic work-up. If at all possible, talk to patients who have undergone some of the available treatments. Today, with chat rooms on the Internet (including one at this becomes possible. Most patients have positive experiences with the different treatments. There is always someone who has had a difficult problem and may be on a mission to put down their doctor or prevent any treatment. Go to a support group for ED if possible. Gather information and know your options. Don't exclude certain treatments before you know about them. Only after you have obtained the necessary information, should you choose a treatment.

Achieving Success

1.Gather information

Information helps you to regain your power. Today from sites such as hisandherhealth and others, articles on every form of therapy is available. (See impotence, ED, erectile dysfunction in hisandherhealth search engine.) This subject is being discussed on radio and TV shows. Numerous articles and books are in print. Patients and their partners can go to Impotents' Anonymous meetings.

2. Ask For Help

I lead an Impotent's Anonymous meeting which discusses any issue surrounding male sexual dysfunction and impotence. We get 40-60 men and their partners to each meeting. Most of them feel nervous, uncomfortable and anxious when coming to this meeting. A real good ice breaker for us is to ask the question, "Has anyone ever asked their doctor for help?" Usually 45-50 men will raise their hands. When I ask them, "Did you get an adequate answer to your problem?" Only 1-2 men leave their hands in the air. Men have been given the following answers when asking doctors to help solve their impotence problem: "You are getting too old", "You've had a good sexual life. Now it's time to quit." "If you find a cure, tell me about it because I am having the same problem."

These answers are unacceptable to any man who has mustered every bit of courage to speak with his physician regarding this very sensitive subject. The man is emotionally let down. His faith in his physician can even be broken.

You should look for a qualified urologist or other health care professional who specializes in treating ED. This can be difficult in the era of managed care and HMO medicine. Sometimes, it is worth paying for a consult from an expert in ED. Most men can be put on a successful treatment plan within 1-2 visits.

The doctor should offer you all of the different treatment options discussed in this article. If a doctor only offers you surgery or nothing, you have the wrong man or woman. Most men can be effectively treated medically. Surgical treatment should not be the first option.

3. Partner Involvement

It is important to have your partner involved in the treatment process. The more she understands about the causes and available treatment, the better the couple can work as a team. There will also be much better acceptance of the entire treatment process. However, most men, in my experience, avoid getting their partners involved in the diagnostic and treatment process.

Men do not like to talk about sexual issues with anyone else. There is a feeling of vulnerability and insecurity when they are not in control of their sexual function. They are afraid of what their wives might say to the doctor. Men try to hide their ED from their wives. Frequently, men will avoid any physical contact that could lead to sexual activity. They go to bed earlier or later than their wives just to avoid contact. Perhaps the problem has already been present for sometime prior to the onset of prostate cancer.

4. Focus on the Problem and Solutions

Be specific about your concerns. Write down any questions you may have. Avoid extraneous information and distractions. Concentrate on those issues that you can control. Don't waste your time and energy on extraneous topics. Your goal is to solve the problem of impotence. Do what it takes to be successful in this endeavor. Get all the information you can about the problem of impotence and more importantly, learn about the solutions.

I have found that many men I have treated focused much of their energies on the facts, costs, and potential problems. Very few men have really evaluated how their problem has hurt them or their relationship. It is so much easier for a man to look at the cold facts than to think about feelings. For this very reason, support groups such as Impotent's Anonymous have been so successful. (Often your urologist or health care professional can lead you to these support groups. Post a message on the hisandherhealth Issue Forums seeking information in your area or seeking information on how to start your own support group.)

These groups offer a forum where men and their partner's can hear how the problem of ED affected others before and after treatment. Most men discover that there is hope through these meetings. Hearing how couples have successfully dealt with their impotence problem, is extremely helpful for men facing either the prospect of becoming impotent or those already experiencing the problem.

5. Choosing the most effective treatment

Keep an open mind about treatments - Knowledge is power. Become informed. Learn about your options. There are many choices you can make. I tell my patients about the different options available to them after a diagnosis has been made. We usually start with the least invasive treatment option and progress to others if less aggressive therapy fails.

Some men, out of ignorance and fear, are denying themselves the most effective tools in the impotence arsenal. Many patients make a decision without really understanding all the ramifications of the different treatments. They have not talked with other patients and are unaware of the ease and naturalness of many of the treatments.

Some men are fearful of the treatments, and the thought of regaining their sexual function alone is not enough to motivate them to fix their problem. Frequently, the potential loss of their self-esteem or a relationship, will be the motivating factor which drives them into the doctor's office for help.

Hitting Bottom

Sometimes, so much water can pass under the bridge that there can be irreparable damage to a relationship. Communication between the partners can come to a standstill. There can be much arguing and fighting. Much anger and resentment can be expressed toward each other. Both men and women may have affairs to see if things will be better with someone else. Often, one partner blames the other for the cause of the problem. The final result can be separation and even divorce. Hopefully, the man and his partner will be directed to proper help so they don't have to hit bottom.

A recent study of 75 patients with organic impotence was performed by researchers Kristine Zurowski, Herbert Kayne, and Irwin Goldstein, M.D.. Patients were asked questions about how impotence affected their life and behavior. The findings showed the following interesting results.

Approximately 65 percent reported a decline in their self-esteem and self-confidence. (Personally, I think the number is closer to 90 percent or even 95 percent in the patients I have examined and treated).

71 percent reported increased levels of frustration.

61 percent reported increased anxiety.

There were significant increases in smoking and drinking.

One in four speculated that their impotence was a definite or possible factor in a break-up of a relationship.

A man will seek treatment when he has experienced enough pain and realizes and feels the impact of his problem. Action occurs when his pain and potential loss of his partner or self-esteem becomes greater than his fear and embarrassment associated with this problem and expected treatment.