By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO
For most men unable to obtain or sustain an erection, it can be embarrassing to even utter words—erectile dysfunction. Also known as “impotence,” erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.”
First, the facts: erectile dysfunction is very prevalent in America.
One study concluded that about 52 percent of men in America experience some degree of impotence. Another study reported that approximately 30 million men are impacted by ED. And while it may not be the case for everyone experiencing some form of impotence, ED could indicate that there is a larger health concern.
There is a psychological effect on men who no longer possess the sexual vitality of yesteryear. Shame, the divorce from their youthful statute, and the stress that the condition can create in a relationship can be disheartening. Numerous studies cite that ED is prevalent globally and can increase in frequency with age.
Often cited as a sexual abnormality, impotence can represent a more serious concern. That’s because sexual dysfunction is like a flashing yellow warning light, informing its victim that some health concerns need addressing. According to the Mayo Clinic, the same process that creates heart disease may also cause ED–except ED serves as an early warning.
Anthony Sharpe suffers from ED. He immediately knew he was suffering from a health issue, although he didn’t know what. He was conflicted about the issue because of his lack of desire for sex. Sharpe assumed ED was a natural process of aging.
“I thought my ED was related to me just not wanting sex anymore,” Sharpe shared. “This was new territory for me. I didn’t know any other men who didn’t want sex anymore other than older men. At the outset of my impotence, I thought this was a part of getting old. But then I found out that this isn’t true.”
Doctors maintain that ED is not a normal part of aging.
Diagnosed with diabetes, Sharpe learned his metabolic condition, including his diet, was causing his impotence.
“My diabetes, fueled by my diet, being out of shape, having slower blood circulation and being overweight were the culprits,” Sharpe said. He then committed himself to address his health concerns.
The process of an erection
An erection occurs when a signal from the brain sends a message to the penis
through the nerves, causing blood to stream into the erectile tissue. Impotence occurs when blood fails to fully flow to the tissue. The absence of a persistent erection raises questions about the overall health of the person experiencing the issue.
According to medical experts, ED, in many situations, is a sign of atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries, a sure sign that the patient is likely on the path to a heart attack. Atherosclerosis develops from endothelial dysfunction, which causes inadequate blood supply to the heart and impairs blood flow to the penis.
“ED is a sign of microvascular disease or disease of the smallest vessels, like in the penis. It is undoubtedly a sign of a disease that affects blood vessels, like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol,” explained Dr. Gregory Hall, founder and board chairman for the National Institute for African American Health. “My patients frequently get the impression that the treatment of these diseases causes erectile dysfunction, but it is the opposite: the diseases that start the problem, and the advancement of the diseases makes it worse.”
When considering that heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension are four of the ten leading causes of death for Black men– (all matters of the heart), it becomes easier to see the connection between ED and the heart. Rather than view and treat impotence from the spear of sexual dysfunction, doctors see it as an issue of the heart and adopt the same practices suggested for treating a heart condition.
Despite the embarrassment, there are feasible ways to alter the course of ED.
“Don’t be embarrassed by this,” Sharpe said. “Many men are going through this. No matter the reason, someone has or had erectile dysfunction. Find out the cause and fix it. I am still working on my cause and resolution.”
Making lifestyle changes is the start of reversing ED.
Partake in a diet of unprocessed, nutrition-dense foods. Get your heart rate up by exercising at least 30 minutes per day. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. Reduce stress through breathing exercises, meditating and regularly getting a good night’s sleep, at least seven hours.
Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit amvonlinestore.com for more information.
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