For men, the realization of the fact that erectile problem has occurred could be so devastating to the concerned person, since this is naturally perceived as a challenge to the very essence of masculinity and all the pride of manhood and “respect” that assumedly go with it. Notwithstanding this much about the reality of failure of the penis to respond to sexual stimuli, I venture to plead on the side of caution against self-blame or taking extreme measures like suicide that sometimes occur in some cases.
Erectile dysfunction (impotence in lay man’s term) is medically defined as “the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity.”
Now to details, the above definition might mean that the male partner cannot have an erection when he tries to have intercourse, or that his erection is not firm enough for intercourse, or that he loses his erection soon after intercourse starts. “Persistent” and “recurrent” problems with sexual intercourse might occur every time one tries to have sex, or only some of the time.
In practice, I have also come across cases that has to do with selective erection failure, where the guy cannot just get it up when it comes to having intercourse with an established partner but had erection during sexual fantasies and sometimes with other women.
Seek professional help
It is important to note, and stress, that having symptoms of erectile dysfunction is not the end of the world; there is more to life than reducing its essence to one’s ability to copulate. At any rate, erectile issues in male are readily treatable these days with a variety of medications and psychotherapies as applicable.
However, before considering a treatment for erectile dysfunction, the concerned individual and the partner should be sure that erectile dysfunction is the definitive cause of problems he may be experiencing. So, it is better to see a doctor, who should able to tell for sure what the problem is before prescribing an erectile dysfunction treatment. It is very important to note that “experiencing occasional difficulties achieving an erection does not necessarily mean ones has Erectile Dysfunction” as a continuum entity, sometimes, it might as well be a natural break, that soon start function the next moment.
Another factor that might help one to understand whether one’s partner has erectile dysfunction is whether either partner are troubled by this pattern of sexual activity. As mentioned above, a few occasions of being unable to have an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity does not however mean that the partner has erectile dysfunction. Many men have one or more episodes of being unable to have an erection probably due to fatigue, distraction, alcohol, over-excitement etc without developing erectile dysfunction. But a persistent pattern of difficulty is a cause for concern.
Tell tale signs
A tell tale sign may be that the man begins to avoid sexual contact or intimacy because he is unhappy with his sexual performance. He may stop initiating sex, or ignore the partner’s hints or suggestions. Or he may become anxious during sexual encounters, and his anxiety makes it even more difficult to get an erection. Related to these is that depression, shame, embarrassment and frustration are also common feelings.
It is very important to stress here that erectile dysfunction is a couple’s problem. Even though it is the male partner that has the physical symptom, it affects the couple’s relationship, and is a problem for both partners. Hence, if one of the sexual partners is concerned that there might be a sexual problem, it is worth following up with the other partner in order to take necessary steps to solve the problem.
Hence, in seeking treatment for erection-related issues, learning more about sexual health may be the first step in restoring ones sexual well being vis-a-vis improving the quality of life and enjoying sex once again. It is thus important to note that treatments that help one to experience the kind of satisfying intimacy one once had can help restore confidence as well as one’s entire relationship with his partner.
Don’t suffer in silence
It is not out of place to feel a little uncomfortable talking to the doctor about erectile dysfunction.
Notwithstanding the above, keep in mind that one has as much right to ask for medical help for erectile dysfunction as you do for any other health condition. There is no reason one and his partner should suffer the effects of erectile dysfunction in secrecy. Note that erectile dysfunction is a condition that many doctors now routinely treat.
Commonly the general medical practitioner is usually the first healthcare professional one speaks to about impotence related issues. If the doctor of first call does not seem comfortable or interested in discussing erectile dysfunction, then see another doctor; note that this is not uncommon with some conservative-minded doctors, who unduly mix their personal beliefs with their professional resource. Depending on your situation, the doctor may refer one to the urologist (a surgeon that specialized in male genital and urinary problems), sexual therapist or to other related specialists.
Another important point about discussing erectile dysfunction with a doctor is the fact that erectile dysfunction may have a serious underlying cause, such as undiagnosed diabetes, heart disease, or prostate cancer, which might be revealed with medical interaction.
Treating erection problem
Before starting any medication or other treatment for erectile dysfunction the following lifestyle modifications may be recommended where needed.
• Dieting to reduce blood lipids (fats, cholesterol)
• Quitting smoking
• Reducing alcohol consumption
• Managing stress and fatigue
These represent a relatively new field of current and future treatments for erectile dysfunction. Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors are a class of oral medications commonly prescribed this day for erection failure. Examples here are sidenafil (Viagra), tadenafil (Cialis) etc. These medications are however best taken with apt medical guide.
Sex counseling/sex therapy
Consultations with a trained counsellor/psychologist may help identify, understand, and cope with sexual concerns. Specific techniques can help to remove stress from lovemaking, increase sexual stimulation, and enable one to focus on sensual pleasure and intimacy.
This is an option for men with established erection issue for whom other treatments were unsuccessful. This is a device that is surgically inserted into the penis. The device is inflated when there is a desire for sexual intercourse and deflated as necessary.
Penile injection therapy
Medication that increases blood flow in the penis is injected by the patient into the side of the penis shortly before sexual activity.
This procedure holds blood in the penis using a ring at the base of the penis.
Anyhow, the important public health message here is: erectile failure should be seen as a medical condition that can be managed effectively with appropriate professional assistance by those trained for the purpose. Don’t suffer in silence seek professional help.
My Son’s Recurrent Earache is Giving Me Headache
I have been following your column for awhile; I have this issue with my five-year-old son’s earache that has been off and on for sometimes.
Usually, he would have some relief after using analgesics and sometimes with added antibiotics, only for the pain in the ear to return after a few weeks.
Please, I wish to be properly guided as to the right approach to this issue.
My first approach here is to note that the ear is a very delicate organ which requires expert guide when issues arise with it.
The ear consists of three major parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear includes the pinna - the visible part of the ear--and the ear canal. The outer ear extends to the tympanic membrane or eardrum, which separates the outer ear from the middle ear. The middle ear is an air-filled space that is located behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains three tiny bones, the malleus, incus, and stapes, which transmit sound from the eardrum to the inner ear; apart from serving as the link to the brain, where the sound is actually perceived and well interpreted, the inner ear is also responsible for the sense of balance for the body.
It is worthy of note, however, that earache is a common symptom, and is not always caused by an ear infection. If a child has earache, but is otherwise well, an ear infection is unlikely. A common cause of mild earache is a build up mucus in the middle ear after a cold. This usually clears in a few days. Sometimes pain that one feels in the ear is due to ‘referred pain’ from other causes such as teeth problems.
An ear infection in the context of this discussion means that the “middle” ear is infected, what is referred to as otitis media in medical parlance; meaning that there is infection in the eardrum and the small space behind the eardrum.
Otitis media is a very common ailment in medical practice. It is a term which describes two conditions which form part of a continuum of disease, acute otitis media, and otitis media with effusion, both of which occur mainly in childhood and may be caused by a bacteria or virus. Most children will have a self limiting illness and many will not present to the doctor, a few however will have recurrent or chronic problems and may require further medical referral.
The small space behind the eardrum in the middle ear is normally filled with air and this is connected to the back of the throat by a tiny channel called the Eustachian tube.
As mentioned above, the middle ear space sometimes becomes filled with mucus (fluid), often during a “cold”. The mucus may then become infected by bacteria or viruses. Children with glue ear who have mucus behind their eardrum for several weeks are more prone to ear infections. Sometimes an ear infection occurs “out of the blue” for no apparent reason.
Most bouts of ear infection will clear on their own within three days. The immune system can usually clear bacteria or viruses causing ear infections. However, if these bouts of infection and pain in the ear become too recurrent, it is best to see a doctor for medical evaluation upon which the case will be reviewed for possible referral to an Ear-Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, who is best trained to handle “beyond-ordinary” cases of earache or infection.
My take on your son’s matter is to seek consultation with an ENT specialist for proper review and treatment.