HEALTH & WELLNESS: Ay, Papi!
A Candid Discussion of Common Men’s Sexual Health Issues
In a world where sex is used to sell everything from toothpaste to hamburgers, it’s difficult to imagine that there are actually men out there who have problems performing in the sack. The reality is there are. Lots of them. In a British survey, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 24 percent of couples reported having no sex in the previous three months.
According to a recent report from Psychology Today, millions of people- about 25 percent of all Americans, by one estimate- suffer from a condition known as hypoactive sexual desire (HSD). The study reports that as many as a third of women and a fifth of men grapple with HSD and sex researchers and therapists now recognize it as the most common sexual problem.
Common issues that affect men, sexually, include erectile dysfunction and low libido or loss of desire.
Experts are actively working on treatments and therapies to combat these issues, and although there is a 50 percent positive outcome in treatment, many of those who have HSD don’t seek help. This is usually because they don’t realize it’s a problem, or because other issues in the relationship seem more important. But, more often than not, they never seek help because they feel ashamed.
So what exactly is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, better known as ED, is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. ED can have physical causes (such as circulatory problems slowing blood flow to the genital region) and psychological causes (such as anxiety, stress and depression). Here are a few tips for men who may be having issues with ED.
Lose Weight, Boost Your Libido!
Men who are overweight may also experience ED because of the physical impact on their body, as well as the psychological impact of not feeling physically attractive.
A recent study conducted at Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center found that around 30% of very overweight people looking to lose weight said they had trouble with desire, sex drive, performance or all three.
Changes in weight can also mean changes in hormone levels, which can affect sex drive and ED. Losing as little as 10 pounds through diet and exercise could help control any high blood sugar; and it may help to balance out your hormones. Exercise can also increase blood flow. And some men find that just making an effort to take good care of themselves can do wonders to improve their self-image and sex drive.
While many musicians have made Marijuana use seem oh-so-cool over the years, the fact is, regular “Chronic” smoking can also lower or “depress” how much testosterone your body makes. While using pot may help you relax or seem to temporarily relieve your depression, some studies show that using pot can make it more difficult to get and keep an erection. Pot (cannabis) can affect receptors in the brain. And a 2011 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine indicates there may be similar receptors in the penis. So pot use may have a negative effect on erections in more ways than one.
There are a number of over-the-counter treatment options that promise to drive libido. For example, lots of men turn to DHEA supplements (a precursor to testosterone). But, unfortunately, there’s no solid data about how well these supplements work.
A Tight Squeeze
While we don’t endorse not using condoms if that is your preferred method of birth control, experts have found that condoms can be a very common cause for erection loss. A 2006 study in Sexual Health found that – over a three-month period – about 37% of men lost at least one erection when putting on a condom, or during sex with a condom. There are probably a few reasons for this…it may be the anxiety of putting a condom on during the excitement of sex, especially with a new partner. Try changing the size of condoms or the brand of condoms you’re using to combat this issue.
So What about Low Libido?
Low libido or low desire is frequently associated with low testosterone levels, also known as “Low T”. The symptoms of low testosterone include a decrease in sex drive, erectile dysfunction, wight gain, loss of energy, moodiness and trouble sleeping.
What If It’s All In Your Head?
Physiological problems can also lead to a loss of sexual desire. Men with abnormal pituitary glands can overproduce the hormone prolactin, which usually turns off the sex drive. As reported in the International Journal of Impotence Research, tests of a drug that blocks prolactin found it increased the libido in healthy males.
The end of a long-term relationship can be emotional and traumatic which, in turn, can bring on depression from a sense of loss or failure. Seeing a therapist in combination with medical treatment can also be effective in helping to resolve any physical and emotional issues that may be contributing to low libido.
And, if your doctor determines that your hormone levels and blood flow are good, treating you with a common medication like Cialis, Levitra or Viagra may help your erectile dysfunction (ED). The good news is that you may not need to be on medication for long…sometimes using it for a little while does the trick.
Bottom line, start with your doctor to get some answers and peace of mind…and to stop the cycle of worry. For many men, even a single experience with impotence or losing an erection can undermine their confidence and lead to anxiety about any future physical encounters. And the more you worry, the worse the problem can get…so the sooner you identify and address what’s at the root of your low libido, the sooner you can move on with your life.
(The above include excerpts from Psychology Today and Sexualhealth.com)
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