Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to get or keep an erection, is a common problem. Most men experience difficulty at some time in their life but for some the problem is ongoing, causing problems in self-esteem and in their relationships. Previously, this was thought to be an emotional problem but recent medical research has shown that in many cases, it is caused by a physical problem. Because this is a difficult topic for men to talk about, there are many misconceptions that still exist. The following dispels some of the myths surrounding ED.
Myth: ED is a normal part of the aging process.
Fact: While it is true that ED is more common as men age, it does not need to be part of the normal aging process. ED is a medical problem and can impact a man's overall feeling of well-being, no matter what his age. ED should and can be treated whether it occurs at 20 or at 90.
Myth: The impact of ED is only felt by men.
Fact: ED is felt by both the man and his partner. ED can create feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and lead to depression. Intimate relationships often suffer, especially if the situation is not addressed; the partner can feel unloved or feel it is somehow her fault, creating relationships problems. When self-esteem is impacted, it can cause difficulties in other relationships as well, with problems at work, with extended family and friends.
Myth: Wearing tight underwear causes ED.
Fact: Tight underwear has been associated with infertility because it can increase the temperature of the testicles but there is no medical research which shows an association between tight underwear and ED.
Myth: ED only occurs because of relationship problems.
Fact: While relationship problems certainly contribute to a man's desire for sex, most cases of ED are physiological, not psychological. On the other hand, untreated ED can further contribute to difficulties within a relationship.
Myth: ED only occurs in older men.
Fact: ED is more common in older men, however, it can occur in men of any age. Certain medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure or heart disease may increase a man's risk of developing ED. Smoking has also been found to be a risk factor and some medications can cause ED.
Myth: Oral medications, such as Viagra, are the only treatment for ED.
Fact: Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, are normally recommended before oral medications. Identifying and treating any underlying physical conditions should be the first line of treatment. Oral medications help many men but do not work for everyone.
Myth: Men with ED have no sexual desire.
Fact: Sexual desire is hormonal and this is not normally impacted by ED. Some may fear sex or avoid having sexual intercourse because they are afraid they will not be able to have an erection, however, ED does not directly impact sexual desire.