Erectile dysfunction can signal two life-threatening conditions – ‘keep an eye’ on signs

Erectile dysfunction: Sex therapist reveals how to avoid it

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Erection problems (impotence) are very common yet many men do not come forward and get themselves checked out. This owes to a range of factors, one of the most common being stigma. However, if you’re frequently experiencing erectile dysfunction, it is vital that you take notice.

That’s because it may be an early warning sign of both heart disease and diabetes – two potentially life-threatening conditions.

Online pharmacy Chemist Click points out that erectile dysfunction can be a sign of conditions that affect both blood flow and the nervous system.

Heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes can all impact blood flow to the penis, which in turn causes erectile dysfunction.

Given its importance, Superintendent pharmacist Abbas Kanani said: “It is vitally important to keep an eye on the frequency of ED [erectile dysfunction] because this could help prevent serious cardiovascular problems.”

In fact, the odds underscore the importance of staying vigilant.

Findings by the British Association of Urological Surgeons show that 90 percent of men with impotence have at least one underlying physical cause for their problem – 40 percent cardiovascular disease and 33 percent diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year according to the World Health Organisation.

Erectile dysfunction can also indicate neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis which affect the transfer of nerve impulses from the brain to the penis are disrupted.

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According to Mr Kanani, erections occur when there is good blood flow directly to the penis.

He continued: “When sexually stimulated, nitric oxide is released from the nervous system. The nitric oxide stimulates the production of a messenger called cGMP. The cGMP allows blood to flow into your penis with ease, causing an erection.”

How to treat erectile dysfunction

Treatments for erectile dysfunction are usually effective and the problem often goes away.

There are also specific treatments for some of the causes of erectile dysfunction.

According to the NHS, medicine such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra) is also often used by doctors to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s also available from pharmacies.

“Because of changes in regulations, you no longer need a prescription to get sildenafil,” explains the NHS.

According to Mr Kanani, a medication known as Tadalafil Daily can be taken every day and is effective in treating erectile dysfunction.

Mr Kanani continued: “Tadalafil has a continuous window of action, so there is no need to schedule doses before sex. This allows for a spontaneous sex life.”

What’s more, lifestyle factors such as improved diet, exercise and reducing stress can all help to improve erection problems longer term when there are no underlying health issues present, the pharmacist added.

There are also certain lifestyle decisions you should avoid if you have erectile dysfunction.

The NHS says to not cycle for a while (if you cycle for more than three hours a week).

Also, “do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week”.

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