All for Life
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) – ‘The dark side’
by Dr Mehjabeen B. Beebeejaun
MBChB MRCP CCST Diabetes & Endocrinology
ED is often known as impotence – absent or diminished erections in the male.
ED is a condition that is very common and it is thought that as many as 1 in 10 men have experienced ED at some point. It is also estimated that the incidence of ED will double over the next 20 years. Yet , this remains a ‘taboo’ and many prefer not to disclose this to healthcare professionals.
Why is it important to seek medical advice when you develop ED?
Studies have shown that the first cardiovascular event, for example, a heart attack can occur between 4-7 years after the onset of ED. It is also the best indicator of cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetes.
ED is a sign of poorly controlled diabetes complicated by many other issues such as diabetic eye disease, decline in kidney function, poor circulation etc which can often remain undiagnosed if medical help is not sought at the right time.
ED also occurs in obesity and generally reflects an excess of ‘adipose tissue’ which works as an endocrine organ and causes metabolic ill-health
ED is a marker of low testosterone ( the male hormone) and can even indicate a distinct type of tumor in the brain called ‘Pituitary tumors’
ED can also be psychological and can cause relationship strains.
What are the causes of ED?
ED can be caused by poorly controlled diabetes, low testosterone levels, obesity,some neurological conditions and also certain medications
Is there a cure?
It is important to understand that ED is not only an indicator of sexual health but also a marker of our metabolism. Depending on the cause of ED, options of treatment can be discussed. It has also been shown that if testosterone therapy is indicated, this can help improve diabetes control, energy levels and general muscle strength
What is the take home message?
It is very important that a patient with ED does not self-medicate as this can result in catastrophic cardiac complications. Treatment for ED should only be guided by medical advice.