Seven common Erectile Dysfunction (ED) myths
About 30 million men in the United States have erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is a medical condition that makes it difficult or impossible for a man to have an erection. But because it is such a sensitive and personal issue, ED can lead people to assume a lot of things that just aren’t true.
One common misunderstanding is that if you can get an erection but it doesn’t last very long, you don’t have ED.
That’s not true. If your penis doesn’t have the ability to hold the blood that maintains an erection, that’s a sign that the veins are not working properly. You may have ED, and there are a variety of possible causes.
If you’re wondering about whether you have ED, or if you think that you can’t do anything to improve the health of your erections, be sure you don’t get discouraged by these common ED myths.
1. I'm too young to have ED
You might think that you won’t have to worry about ED until you’re in your 60s or 70s. But the most common age group for new Viagra prescriptions is in the late 40s and early 50s. And one 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that about 25% of men who sought care for ED for the first time were under age 40.
ED is a progressive condition. It gets worse over time. And while age can affect the health of erections, it’s rarely the only cause of ED. You’re never too young to think about the health of your erections.
2. Viagra can cause ED
There's no reason to wait to start Viagra. Most studies have shown that tolerance or resistance is rare. Some patients may have satisfactory results with Viagra for many years.
But Viagra can only do so much. It is designed to increase blood flow to your penis when you are aroused. The health of your erections can be affected by many other, different factors, including your psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular health.
Changes in those other factors may affect your erections in ways that Viagra can’t address. If you’re taking Viagra and your ED gets worse over time, you should feel free to talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
3. Viagra is the only treatment option for ED
That’s not true. Oral medications — Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra — are the most well-known treatments for ED, but they aren’t the only option. If Viagra doesn’t work for you, you shouldn’t assume you've reached the end of the road.
There are other medical options, along with surgical treatments, that have helped many men overcome the challenges of ED. It’s likely that you haven’t heard about those other options because they aren’t advertised on television, and few people voluntarily talk about what they’ve done to improve their erections.
That’s why it’s so important to discuss your concerns and your goals with a men’s health specialist who has the expertise to be able to offer you the full range of treatment options, not just the most well-known options.
4. If I have ED, that means I have a health issue in my penis
ED happens for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually not something wrong with the penis itself. Instead, it could be caused by psychological, neurological, or cardiovascular conditions. Or it could be related to lifestyle — smoking, diet, and even the amount of sleep you get could be a factor.
Very often, ED can serve as an indicator of your overall health. For example, the vessels that supply blood to the penis are much smaller than the blood vessels that go to the heart. If you’re not getting enough blood flow to support a healthy erection, that could be an early warning sign of a cardiovascular issue. You shouldn’t take that lightly, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease.
In addition to helping you manage your ED, a men’s health specialist is trained to notice what types of conditions might be causing your ED so that you can get all the care you need to stay healthy.
5. Testosterone boosters or supplements cure ED
Testosterone is not a cure-all for ED. Patients with low testosterone may continue to have erectile dysfunction even after their testosterone is replaced. Testosterone is important to your health for a number of reasons, but low testosterone is rarely the sole cause of ED. In fact, most people who are treated for ED have normal testosterone levels.
6. If I'm having trouble in the bedroom, I have ED
Not all erection problems mean you have ED. Other factors like fatigue and stress can affect your ability to have an erection. For younger people, especially, anxiety can make erections more difficult at times.
Most men will lose their erection after premature ejaculation, but that is not necessarily related to ED.
And it’s not uncommon for people to have other difficulties with an erection from time to time. You could have a really good erection one day and then have a little trouble the next day. Some variation is normal.
7. If I have ED, it means I'm not attracted to my partner
This is an unfortunate reaction to ED that is not uncommon. It can cause a lot of sadness or frustration in a relationship. ED is a medical problem that requires the attention of a medical professional.
It can be therapeutic for couples affected by ED to attend the first visit to a men’s health specialist together. The physician can conduct an exam that includes an ultrasound to check blood flow to the penis, as well as an injection to try to induce an erection during the exam.
When both partners can witness, in person, the steps a trained physician takes to check for erection health, it can help them understand the many possible causes of ED that have nothing to do with attraction.
Relationship problems can certainly be a cause of stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact erections. But it’s very important, for your health and your relationship, to be examined by a doctor who is trained to identify the possible medical causes.