Erectile dysfunction is more than just a man’s problem.
This was the key message coming out of one of a series of Man Talk discussions held at the Cave Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church.
General medical practitioner Dr Adrian Lorde presented national statistics that show 52 per cent of men suffer erectile dysfunction, which means they are unable to sustain erections during sexual intercourse.
Seven per cent of males in their 20s, 18 per cent by the age of 50, 25 per cent of males in their 60s, and 80 per cent in their 80s face this problem.
“As some get older . . . there may be a decline in sexual arousability or the ability to respond to sexual gestures,” Lorde explained, adding that the condition is not uncommon and is usually a sign of another health problem that can be treated.
“The most common causes of erectile dysfunction we find in Barbados are alcoholism and diabetes.”
Cigarette and marijuana smoking, excessive use of energy drinks, and sleep deprivation, lead to erectile dysfunction in younger males. Alcohol and other drugs can cause nerve damage and clog blood vessels, Dr Lorde noted.
However, he said, the topic remains one that is traditionally avoided in relationships, and its impact on women is often missed.
“Too often, the men hide it and don’t want to discuss it with their partners, and they definitely don’t discuss it with friends. We need to recognize and recognize it early,” Dr Lorde said.
He cautioned against the use of alternative herbal drugs and Google diagnoses which can result in people creating one problem as they attempt to solve another.
Anabolic steroids, anti-testosterone drugs used by prostate cancer patients, heart drugs and anti-depressants were also listed as drugs that cause erectile dysfunction.
The safest treatment, Dr Lorde recommended, is a healthier diet and physical activity to prevent or control chronic diseases.
Meantime, consultant psychiatrist Dr Sharon Harney addressed the psychological effects of erectile dysfunction, which she said should not be ignored.
“Someone having erectile difficulties tends to be more emotionally distressed and may sort of physically withdraw from their partners,” she said.
However, Dr Harney said, men are not the only ones who feel the psychological impacts.
“The effect on the woman is also quite emotive because some women also view their self-esteem and their femininity and their desirability by how much men are attracted to them sexually,” she explained, as she urged people in this situation to broaden their definition of intimacy and explore other components of their relationship to ease the pressures about sexual intercourse.
“Get out of sex being a word that means one specific action and see it in a more general way.”
Professional counsellor Samantha Lorde further challenged those attending the discussion to communicate more with their partners, especially when faced with erectile dysfunction.
“It’s not something that’s discussed, it’s kind of just pushed to one side,” she said, adding that the “it’s his problem” mentality has resulted in communication dwindling at a time when more support is needed to cope with the condition.
Lorde shared that over the years, she has met couples between the ages of 23 and 27 who struggled with the problem because of high stress levels.
She also urged persons to seize the opportunity to learn about their partners at a deeper level, so that sexual interactions do not define the relationship.