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Yenza Kahle - Do The Right Thing
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Erectile Dysfunction - What men need to know

What causes an erection?

An erection occurs because of sensory or mental stimulation, or both, that results in blood flowing into the penis making the penis expand. Once the blood flows into the penis, muscles in the penis contract to stop the inflow of blood, which causes an erection. When muscles in the penis stop contracting outflow channels are opened that reverse the erection.

So, why can't I get it up? Let's take a look at what causes erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, occurs when you can't keep an erection, may keep an erection sometimes and other times not, or are only able to keep an erection for a brief period. Erectile dysfunction is linked to medical causes such as chronic diseases like diabetes, heart and vascular (blood vessel) disease, kidney or liver failure. It can also be associated with neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, alcoholism, drug abuse or the side effects of certain medications.

Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction can be depression and performance anxiety (nervousness over his ability to sexually perform), feeling nervous about sex (perhaps because of a bad experience or because of a previously unsuccessful sexual experience), feeling stressed (including stress from work or family situations), or being troubled by problems in your relationship. There is a large silence around erectile dysfunction, as an erection is commonly associated with potency, success and masculinity. Yet many men may experience erectile dysfunction in their lifetime.

If a Brother is experiencing erectile dysfunction he should visit his doctor as soon as possible, as erectile dysfunction can in some cases indicate that there is a cardiovascular (e.g. heart) problem. Thankfully, erectile dysfunction can be treated.

Traditional vs Biomedical treatments

All around the world there are so called herbal or traditional treatments that claim to help with getting or maintaining an erection - the validity of these claims is often unknown within the world of medical science. Ultimately, it is your decision whether to consume unproven herbs or mutis for your ED, just know that if traditional methods do not work, there are various proven effective treatments for dealing with the problem, let's take a look at some of those now.

What should I do about Erectile Dysfunction?

Treatment strategies are dependent on the cause of your erectile dysfunction; seeing a specialist will help determine what that may be. Some of the treatments offered for sexual dysfunction include:

-Medical treatment - This involves treatment of any physical problem that may be contributing to a man's sexual dysfunction.

Medications - Medications may help improve sexual function in men by increasing blood flow to the penis.

  • Hormones - Men with low levels of testosterone may benefit from hormone supplementation (testosterone replacement therapy).
  • Psychological therapy - Therapy with a trained counsellor can help a person address feelings of anxiety, fear or guilt that may have an impact on sexual function.
  • Mechanical aids - Aids such as vacuum devices and penile implants may help men with erectile dysfunction.
  • Education and communication - Education about sex and sexual behaviors and responses may help a man overcome his anxieties about sexual performance. Open dialogue with your partner about your needs and concerns also helps to overcome many barriers to a healthy sex life.

While sexual problems cannot be prevented, dealing with the underlying causes of the dysfunction can help you better understand and cope with the problem when it occurs. Knowing that there is a problem in the first place can often be the most difficult part of the recovery process - female partners need to address the topic sensitively, but shouldn't shy away from it for the benefit of both partners' health. Men should be aware that denial, whether it is about the cause, or the matter itself, is not a constructive approach to resolving the issue - take some time out for yourself, remember that treatment is available and is within your grasp, the choice is yours to make.

Once you've addressed the underlying problem there are some things you can do to help maintain good sexual function:

Follow your doctor's treatment plan for any medical/health conditions.

  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Deal with any emotional or psychological issues such as stress, depression and anxiety. Get treatment as needed.
  • Increase communication with your partner.

Brother's need to understand that erection problems are nothing to be ashamed of, as mentioned earlier, millions of men around the world suffer from these problems. The important thing to remember is that it is a treatable condition, so don't suffer in silence, visit a doctor or specialist to have a check-up today.

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About Brothers for Life

Brothers for Life promote positive male norms and encourage the uptake of health services such as Medical Male Circumcision (MMC), Men taking up HIV Testing, Consistent condom use by Men and reduction of sexual partners. The campaign mobilises men to actively engage in activities to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in their communities.