Note to all men: being unable to get the “little man” to “man up” will not make you less of a man. However, it can affect you and your partner’s sex lives. There is no need to be ashamed of this condition as erectile dysfunction happens to a lot of men, especially as they age. If you have been experiencing this, you can consult with Dr Benjamin Loh to find out more about it and the treatments available in Singapore.
Erectile dysfunction: What is it?
Commonly known as impotence, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that occurs when a man is incapable of getting or maintaining a firm erection during sexual intercourse. If this condition happens rarely, then it is not a major cause of concern. If you experience erection problems more often than usual, then it is time that you have your health checked by a medical professional. Erection problems can cause you (and your partner) stress and it also may be a sign that you have an underlying medical condition lurking. Consider speaking with your doctor when these signs and symptoms are present and persistent:
- Delayed or premature ejaculation
- Difficulty in getting an erection
- Difficulty in keeping an erection
- Loss of libido
Some health conditions are linked to erectile dysfunction. Let your doctor know if you have any of the following health-related conditions during your consultation:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
Other factors that may cause erectile dysfunction are:
- Certain medications (e.g. appetite suppressants, antiandrogens, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, prescription sedatives, tranquilizers, ulcer medicines)
- Complications or side effects from prostate cancer treatments (e.g. radiation therapy and prostate surgery)
- Complications or injury from bladder cancer surgery
- Damage or injury to the bladder, pelvis, penis, or spinal cord
- Emotional or psychological factors (e.g. anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, stress)
Lifestyle factors that may affect getting an erection:
- Consumption of too much alcohol
- Obesity or being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Taking illegal drugs
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction
There are a variety of tests that can be used to diagnose erectile dysfunction. Your doctor will recommend which specific test you should undergo based on your symptoms to accurately determine ED and its cause. These are some of the things that you can anticipate your doctor to ask you about during your initial consultation:
- When you first noticed your inability to get or keep an erection
- What your symptoms are
- How often do you experience these symptoms
- What medications, vitamins, and/or supplements are you taking, including illegal drugs
- What psychological or emotional state you are currently in
At the end of your consultation, your doctor should be able to recommend test/s that you need to take in order to look further into your condition and be able to make a diagnosis. Any of the tests below may be suggested:
- Blood hormone study
- Bulbocavernosus reflex
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Dynamic infusion cavernosometry
- Duplex ultrasound
- Lipid profile
- Liver and kidney function tests
- Nocturnal penile tumescence
- Penile biothesiometry
- Thyroid function test
- Vasoactive injection
Your doctor will present a management and treatment plan once the results have confirmed the existence of erectile dysfunction and its causes.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction
There are many treatments that have been tested and proven to successfully treat erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Changes in lifestyle
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (EWST)
- Oral medications
- Penile injections
- Psychological counseling
- Sex therapy
- Vacuum devices
Among these, the most commonly used treatments in Singapore are oral medications (e.g. ED pills) and extracorporeal shockwave therapy.
ED pills or EWST: Which is better?
Medications or pills used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) are composed of Phoshodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These medications are usually the first line of defense to address erectile dysfunction caused by poor blood circulation to the penis. There are four types of PDE5 inhibitors:
- Avanafil (Stendra)
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
- Vardenafil (Levitra or Staxyn)
ED pills are the most commonly used method to treat impotence. It also costs less as compared to other treatments. However, this treatment may not be best for you if you are diagnosed with heart disease and are taking nitrates. In addition, ED pills may cause side effects, such as:
- Back pain
- Digestion problems
- Muscle pain
- Nasal congestion
- Problems affecting your vision
- Symptoms similar to getting a cold
Another type of treatment for ED that is gaining much attention nowadays is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT). This latest development’s goal is to produce new blood vessels in the penis with the use of low-intensity shockwaves. While you may be intimidated by the word “shockwave,” you can rest assured that this therapy is without pain. EWST is safe specifically for patients with ED caused by diabetes, hypertension, or Peyronie’s disease.
Both ED pills and EWST are effective methods to treat erectile dysfunction. Your doctor can advise you further on which of the two options can work best for your condition given the symptoms that you have. ED pills and EWST may also be combined with other treatments to increase the chances of improving your condition.
Preventing erectile dysfunction
There are ways to prevent erectile dysfunction depending on its cause. For ED that is caused by psychological or emotional factors, this can be addressed through counseling and lifestyle changes.
If you have an increased risk of developing a health condition that may result in ED, it is imperative that you take extra care of your health. This is especially true for persons who have a family history of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and hypertension. Keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle by:
- Eating healthy – Be conscious of the food and drinks that you consume. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your daily meals. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats.
- Eliminate bad vices – Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs do not only affect your erection, but it can also damage your whole body. It is best to avoid these bad vices.
- Exercise often – Regular exercise can keep your weight healthy and benefit your psychological well being. Ask your doctor for recommendations based on your health condition.
For more information about erectile dysfunction and treatments, visit Dr Ben Medical in Singapore.
Dr Ben Medical @ Raffles Place
1 Raffles Pl, #04-50, Singapore 048616
+65 888 12344 | +65 888 12344