Men’s Health Week is an international week focusing on the importance of men’s health and wellness. As a doctor, I’m constantly telling my patients to take care of themselves throughout the year, but wanted to take this special week to highlight some common men’s health issues that can be uncomfortable to talk about: erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
When it comes to sexual health, a lot of my patients feel uncomfortable talking about their issues face-to-face. That’s why online services are great for addressing these types of conditions – it moves the whole conversation online via text in a safe, confidential and convenient way. As a medical director at Rosemary Health, I treat patients every single day for ED and PE, many of whom may not have sought treatment had it not been for the discretion that comes with the online service.
There is a lot of stigma surrounding conditions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, but both are surprisingly more common than you might think.
Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED, is the inability to get or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sex. ED affects up to 40% of Australian men, and while it’s true that it becomes more common with age, studies have found that one in four men in ED is under age 40.
What causes ED?
Not being able to get hard when it matters can be frustrating. There are many common causes of ED, including psychological, physiological and lifestyle factors.
Psychological factors that can lead to ED include:
- Negative thoughts related to sex
Physical factors that can lead to ED include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Renal disease
- High cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peyronie’s disease
- Sleep disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
Lifestyle factors that can lead to ED include:
- Generally unhealthy or sedentary lifestyle
- Recreational drug use
- Certain medications, like beta blockers, diuretics, antihistamines and SSRIs
How to treat ED
First, it’s important to understand what’s causing the dysfunction before doctors can identify a treatment plan. Counselling may be recommended to address psychological issues and lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking, diet and exercise could be recommended to address lifestyle issues. Depending on the reason for your ED, you may be suitable for prescription medication such as PDE5 inhibitors like sildenafil or tadalafil.
When searching for ED treatment options online, you’ll find plenty of herbal supplements and mysterious remedies that claim to have magical effects on erectile dysfunction. Be careful of using treatments that promise a lot but provide very little evidence on safety and treatment success.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your problems, there are digital health services that connect you with doctors online without requiring face-to-face conversations.
Premature ejaculation (PE) is defined as an inability to delay or control ejaculation. It is commonly confused with erectile dysfunction because they are both common male sexual dysfunctions, but ED is when you can’t get hard while PE is when you finish too quickly. PE affects up to 31% of Australian men – but this number may actually be much higher due to men not reporting it.
What causes premature ejaculation?
There are two types of PE: lifelong and acquired. Lifelong premature ejaculation means that you’ve always had this issue since your first sexual encounter. Acquired premature ejaculation means that you’ve developed this problem after having previous sexual experiences without it.
Lifelong PE can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the part of the brain that controls ejaculation.
Acquired PE can be caused by:
- Thyroid disease
- High blood pressure
- Recreational drug use
- Prostate disease
How to treat PE
Finishing too quickly in the bedroom can be embarrassing, but there are a few different treatments you can try. For example, behavioural techniques like the start-stop technique and the pause-squeeze technique. You can read more about these behavioural exercises to last longer in bed in our guide.
Sprays and wipes with numbing agents are available to help delay ejaculation. You may also consider consulting a doctor for prescription treatment. In Australia, there are a few prescription PE treatments available, such as short-acting and long-acting SSRIs.
When it comes to sexual issues like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, many men feel embarrassed talking about it, let alone seeking treatment. This Men’s Health Week, let’s open the conversation around these common issues and keep E-D out of the B-E-D.
Dr Joseph Santos is a registered GP and medical director at Rosemary Health, a digital service connecting Australians to quality healthcare online. With over 15 years of experience, Dr Santos has an interest in men’s health issues ranging from sexual health to chronic conditions.