It’s that all-boys club no man wants to join.
Yet more than 18 million American men have involuntarily been cast into the clubhouse.
Their bad-luck bond: suffering from erectile dysfunction, also known as ED or impotence.
Afraid you or your beau will be next? Don't fret too much — this is one club you can, to some extent, refuse to join. There are steps you can take now to maintain peak sexual fitness.
Defined as a man’s inability to attain or maintain an erection adequate enough for sexual satisfaction, male erectile dysfunction generally falls into one of two categories: physiological or psychological.
The physiological causes make for up to 90 percent of persistent ED cases in men over the age of 50.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, as with many health conditions, you want to improve your overall general health in avoiding ED.
Nearly one in five men experiences erectile dysfunction, but simple lifestyle changes can ease the problem for many, regardless of age, said a study in the American Journal of Medicine. Most of these modifications target a man’s cardiovascular functioning.
ED is much more common in men with diabetes or with risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol. This is because conditions that affect blood flow to the penis are the most common causes for ED in older men.
So, reducing the risk of heart-related conditions is crucial in making sure that you, or that special man in your life, remains ED-free.
1. Watch What You Eat. Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet can affect blood vessels and blood supply to the pelvis and penis. Good nutrition keeps your cholesterol level low, which reduces the hardening of arteries that can affect your game. Diet is especially important for those dealing with diabetes, since this condition can block blood flow to the penis. Keep your blood sugar level in safe range. This will further help you to avoid any consequential nerve damage that can affect a male’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
2. Exercise. Another way to maintain adequate blood flow to the pelvic region is to stay physically active. ED is more common in men who are physically inactive. Try running, swimming or even walking regularly. (Note: ED can develop from sitting for long hours on a hard bicycle seat, since that compresses the perineum). Exercising regularly also combats cardiovascular diseases, stress and high cholesterol — all of which can lead to erectile dysfunction. It also helps to reduce your risk of Type-2 diabetes, further warding off ED.
3. Control Your Blood Pressure. If you have high blood pressure, make sure that you are being treated. This will help to prevent hypertension and atherosclerosis, a major health problem related to coronary artery disease.
While practicing heart health is vital, we’re just getting warmed up. Beyond cardiovascular concerns, there are plenty of other ways you can take on ED.
4. Limit Your Use of Toxins. Legal or not, a number of stimulants, sedatives, and antihistamines can affect a man’s sexual response and performance. So, in a nutshell ... don’t smoke. Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. Stay away from illicit drugs, including marijuana and steroids. Avoid using herbal or other supplements, as some can have sexual side effects.
5. Reconsider Your Meds. Some medications, including classes of antidepressants, diuretics, cholesterol-lowering drugs and anti-inflammatory medications, can all affect your sexual response. This is partly because the vascular processes that produce an erection are controlled by the nervous system. Certain prescription medications can interfere with critical nerve signals. I know it can be tough to talk to your physician about sex, but you need to go to bat for yourself — and for your relationship. Work with your doctor to figure out what medicines and dosages are best for you, given your medical and sexual needs.
6. Get Your Zzzzs. Good health boils down to our quality of sleep. Fatigue plays into one’s sex drive, often overriding any desire to get down ’n’ dirty. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
7. Stay Abreast of Your Psychological Health. Reasons for ED can stem from mental health issues, especially in younger men. Tension, anxiety, depression, feelings of inadequacy, fears, and past sexual abuse are among the many problems that can severely affect a man’s sexual response and performance. Ask yourself: What’s causing me distress? Do I need to be taking better care of myself? Have any old issues come back to haunt me? If you are feeling stressed, take steps to combat burnout and depression, such as practicing yoga and meditation, taking a vacation or reducing long hours at work.
8. Regularly Evaluate Your Relationship. Relationship or sexual problems, like poor communication, can make for a mind-body disconnect. If your brain isn’t stimulated, your groin isn’t going to be either. Don’t be afraid to talk to a sex counselor or therapist in dealing with relationship or personal issues — past or present — before things get out of sync.
Although there are plenty of ways to stave off ED, it must be acknowledged that some cases are hard to avoid. These include:
— Prostate disease;
— Inflammation of the prostate, urethra, or seminal vesicles;
— Neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s;
— Hormone disorders;
— Impaired tissue functioning in the penis;
— Pelvic steal syndrome, a condition where blood goes to the muscles of the pelvis instead of the penis for erection.
Continually nurturing your physical and emotional health provides you with so many benefits, including sexual functioning. In starting your anti-ED plan, be sure to consult with your physician to identify any potential risk factors. Hopefully, the two of you can come up with a personally tailored action plan for dealing with this issue — before it becomes an issue — today.
In-the-Know Sex News:
— Personality is a Predictor of Sexual Disorders. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction studied 540 women and found that the strongest predictor of reports of sexual problems was the participants’ sexual inhibition scores. These scores were better predictors than demographic and background factors, such as age, when it came to disorders like arousal difficulty or low sexual interest.
— Child Sex Abuse Cases Down in U.S. Cases of sex abuse in children have dropped more than 50 percent in the past 14 years, according to a new report from researchers at the University of New Hampshire. Based on data collected by the federal government from state child protection agencies, the news is encouraging in light of the fact that April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.
— The Latest in Online Black Books. OnlineBootyCall.com is the latest in easy access, providing services for those who enjoy dating, but who want to stay single. This Web site, which makes millions of personal connections every week, espouses controversial commandments. "Thou shalt get out before the sun rises," says it all.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hand Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."