The sexual health of a person is as important as their mental and physical health. But often, it gets ignored, because there is a certain form of stigma attached to sexual health conditions. This even stops people from seeking timely treatment, if at all. Dr Gautam Banga, consultant and andrologist at the Sunrise Hospital New Delhi, says in India, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a taboo, because people don’t see it as a medical disorder but as sexual incompetence. “It does not happen because the man is not interested in or is incapable of having sex, but there are medical reasons like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease (IHD), depression etc., that leads to ED,” he tells indianexpress.com.

According to research, about 30 per cent of men below the age of 40 years and 20 per cent across age groups experience difficulties in getting/maintaining an erection.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include persistent trouble getting or keeping an erection, reduced sexual desire or premature ejaculation. “These symptoms can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. So, one should not be embarrassed and must consult the doctor as treating the underlying condition is sufficient to reverse ED,” Dr Banga explains.

Treatment options

The doctor says that ED can limit daily life, affect intimacy, contribute to low self-esteem and impact personal relationships. “The good news, however, is that it can be treated with medications or with penile prosthesis, and the treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition.

“Quite often, oral medications may be the only treatment required and men can resume normal sexual life. If a patient does not respond to oral medications, penile prosthesis (implants) is a viable and long-term option especially in severe cases. While least-chosen, it is important to know penile implants are easy to use and men report a high satisfaction rate. Speaking to an andrologist or urologist is the best option, as they can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment.”

Lifestyle changes

People need to understand that lifestyle changes can help prevent ED.

*  Exercising regularly and practicing aerobics can be helpful.
* Excessive smoking and alcohol intake should also be controlled.
* The condition also leads to stress, anxiety, or depression, and you must consult a psychologist or counsellor.

“People shy away from consulting an expert and instead opt for products like supplements, creams etc., available in the market. But, it may not be safe. Before using any such products, check with your doctor, especially if you have chronic health conditions,” the doctor concludes.

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