Cape Town – South African men’s health in in crisis.

So says a press release, which says poor personal management of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension lead to mean suffering in the bedroom.

June is Men’s Health month.

Tumi Motsei, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says the figures are startling:

“If you’re a man and you’re troubled by any of these conditions, it is likely that you’re also struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED) as these typically go hand in hand.

“As a result of this rapid rise in chronic diseases of lifestyle – most of which are completely preventable – more than five in every ten South African men now suffer from this sexually debilitating condition.

“The sad reality is that only 20% of men with ED seek treatment and even with a prescription in hand even fewer can bring themselves to hand it over to the pharmacist. There is no shortage of information out there about ED, but the problem is, a lot of it just isn’t true, and it’s preventing most men from getting the help they need,” she says.

Motsei lifts the lid on some of the most common misconceptions around erectile dysfunction. These are:

Myth 1: ED is part of ageing

Sexual health (at any age) is a major overall health marker for men. When your plumbing is in a fix, it serves as an early warning sign for other more life-threatening conditions such as heart disease. Some research suggest that ED may even precede a patient’s heart attack by five years. So to sum it up, age in some cases has got very little to do with the underlying causes of ED.

Myth 2: It’s irreversible

Losing weight, eating more healthily, exercising more and quitting smoking could not only reverse ED, but enhance erectile performance as well as improve overall health.

Myth 3: It’s all in your mind

The male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. ED can result from a problem with any of these. Stress and mental health conditions could cause or worsen ED, but the most common cause is clogged blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis as a result of high cholesterol, alcoholism and smoking.

Myth 4: Surgery is the only long-term treatment option

Surgery should always be a last resort as it can end up damaging other bodily functions and there really is no guarantee that it will work. Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors are the most widely used and effective types of medication for treating ED and work by temporarily increasing the blood flow to your ‘works’. Sildenafil is a popular medication since it’s designed to work on demand and last for about eight hours. Ask your doctor for a generic equivalent .

Myth 5: You can’t perform because you’re not as attracted to your partner as you were before

Even if you’re less attracted to your partner, this shouldn’t affect your physical function.

Myth 6: Wearing tight underwear or pants could cause ED

Your style of clothes has got very little to do with ED, so if wearing a tight-fitting outfit is your thing, you can go ahead and wear it with complete peace of mind.

Myth 7: Your bad habits won’t affect your sexual performance

Lack of exercise, smoking, eating food that is high in fat, sugar and salt, and drinking too much alcohol can all damage blood vessels, impeding blood flow and making it difficult to get and maintain an erection.

Myth 8: Taking testosterone will cure ED

If your testosterone levels are already within the normal range, raising levels probably won’t do much. It’s your lifestyle that needs to be re-evaluated.

Motsei says it is important to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among South African men.

“The majority of men in South Africa don’t know their blood pressure, their weight, their blood glucose or their cholesterol. Understanding the most common potential causes of ED can help men to either identify why they may be experiencing the condition or better still, help to prevent it all together. It is vital that men in particular learn more about and take personal responsibility for their own health and well-being,” she says.