It can feel humiliating or shameful to suffer from erectile dysfunction – despite the fact that it affects half the male population of the UK between the ages of 40 and 70.
But experts have now revealed that the condition may have darker implications, manifesting as a possible symptom of serious issues such as heart disease or high blood pressure.
Dr Hussain Alnajjar told FEMAIL about the possible underlying issues which could bring about erectile dysfunction (or ED), explaining the potential reasons behind this.
He also touched on the importance of being seen by a medical professional, despite many experiencing feeling embarrassed to seek help.
Dr Hussain Alnajjar told FEMAIL about the possible underlying issues which could bring about erectile dysfunction, explaining the potential reasons behind this (Stock image)
The Consultant UroAndrologist and erectile dysfunction expert also outlined the steps that can be taken to deal with erectile dysfunction, ranging from medication to lifestyle changes.
Rebecca Porta, CEO of the Urology Foundation, said it was critical to address any qualms men may have around getting checked out.
She said: ‘Many men are anxious to seek medical guidance when necessary, so it is important that we try and combat unhelpful stereotypes around the condition.
How common is erectile dysfunction?
Dr. Alnajjar said that ‘ED is much more prevalent than you think’, explaining that 1 in 10 men experience the condition in their lifetime, with the issue more frequent in men over 40.
He added: ‘It is important to prioritise your health in these instances and while these conversations can be uncomfortable to have, it is important not to delay seeing a medical professional as they will be able to find a treatment that is right for you and identify if your condition is a sign of something more serious.
‘ED is easily treatable and there are various forms of treatments that can be offered to men with this condition.’
What are the possible causes behind erectile dysfunction?
Dr Alnajjar explained that there are a variety of conditions erectile dysfunction (ED) could be symptom of, due to the link between male arousal and the several body systems it concerns.
He says: ‘Male sexual stimulation is a complex process that involves the brain, emotions, nerves, hormones, muscles and blood vessels.
‘ED can result from a problem with one or a combination of these.’
Meanwhile he said ED could be a cause of anything from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and neurological conditions.
According to Dr Alnajjar (pictured), ED may sometimes manifest as a symptom of more serious issues because blood flow is affected.
‘ED can be identified if a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for satisfactory sexual intercourse.
‘It can be associated with low sex drive in cases where low testosterone is the cause.’
How does erectile dysfunction arise as a symptom of something more serious?
According to Dr Alnajjar, ED may sometimes manifest as a symptom of more serious issues because blood flow is affected.
‘In many cases, ED can be a sign of other underlying health issues, such as: atherosclerosis (hardening or blocked arteries), heart disease, high blood pressure or high blood sugar from diabetes, particularly if the condition is reoccurring,’ he explained. .
‘Such conditions often accompany a reduction in blood flow or problem with the nerves of the penis from diabetes, which can affect a man’s ability to get an erection, hence why ED may be an early warning of a more serious illness.’
How should people go about seeking help for erectile dysfunction?
Dr. Alnajjar stressed that despite many feeling the push and pull of stigmas around the condition, it is important to seek help from a medical professional.
He explained: ‘Many men find it embarrassing and difficult to talk about this matter.
There is still a huge stigma attached to ED, which is why many men are afraid and reluctant to seek medical help.
However he stressed that it’s vital to power through any qualifications about seeking help.’
Botox to overcome erectile dysfunction! Injections straight into the penis ‘can help impotent men’
It might be known for ironing out wrinkles.
But scientists have said Botox might also smooth out erectile difficulties in men.
Injecting impotent men straight into their penis relaxes the organ, allowing blood to rush into it.
Belgian urologists said the treatment showed ‘clear benefit’, although further studies are needed.
The jab only appeared to work for three months.
NHS doctors aren’t currently allowed to give impotent men Botox, despite studies suggesting it helps.
Instead, they are usually given drugs to lower blood pressure or statins because difficulties tend to be brought on by circulatory problems.
‘ED can have a significant mental tool on men and can affect their perception of manliness, especially if it impacts their fertility, or intimacy with their sexual partner,’ he explained.
‘While these conversations can be uncomfortable to have, it is important that men visit a healthcare professional if this is a persistent issue they are facing.’
When is over-the-counter medication like Viagra enough?
‘Over the counter medications are a quick fix for many men, and it means they can avoid having what they might deem as ’embarrassing’ conversations with healthcare professionals,’ Dr Alnajjar explained.
He continues: ‘Oral medications are commonly used, are generally safe, and are a successful form of treatment for many men.
‘They increase a natural chemical (nitric oxide) in your penis which relaxes the muscles leading to increased blood flow and an erection in response to sexual stimulation.’
He also stressed that medication will affect people different depending on a number of factors, adding: ‘Medications do not work for everyone, and certain conditions can make them less effective, such as after pelvic surgery or in poorly controlled diabetics.’
The doctor said lifestyle changes should be ‘the first step in the treatment of erectile dysfunction’, including long-term solutions such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, weight loss, regular aerobic exercise, quitting illicit drugs and a Mediterranean diet.
Dr Alnajjar also said it is crucial for men with ED to be looked at by a professional to avoid future problems.
‘It is critical for men experiencing ED to seek medical attention so that they can get assessed and treated by a medical expert,’ he said.
‘This approach will help many men avoid future serious health issues such as a heart attack or stroke.’