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When our sex life fills us with stress and anxiety

Anastasios D. Kalantzis, Surgeon Urologist-Andrologist


What is it?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the systematic or continuous (lasting at least 6 months) inability of man to achieve or maintain sufficient erection in order to proceed with sexual intercourse. Many men have transient problems with their erections. This does not mean, however, that they suffer from erectile dysfunction. In order for this problem to be confirmed, erectile inability or difficulty on a regular basis should be observed.


What causes it?

Any disorder affecting the blood supply to the penis during sexual stimulation can cause erectile dysfunction.

• In younger men, the loss of erection is associated with psychological causes. Sometimes, lack of sexual experience may lead them to think that they will fail, that their penis is too small, or that during placement of the condom will lose their erection.

• Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression, high cholesterol, alcoholism and multiple sclerosis are related to erectile dysfunction.

• Erectile dysfunction may be a side effect of certain medication taken to treat cardiovascular problems, allergies, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and ulcers. In case a medicine causes erection problems, the doctor can replace it with another medication scheme.


How much ED influences the man

Because men place great importance on good sexual function as they presume that this is the way to secure and safeguard their relationship, ED leads them to stress, insecurity and fear. Studies in the male population showed that erectile dysfunction does not mean reduced 'masculinity', but is often part of an organic disease.


Female interpretation

According to testimonies of men, when for some reason they lost their erection, their sexual partner became irritated and showed no understanding. A woman can have a reaction of this kind not because she remained sexually unsatisfied, but because she perceives the dysfunction as lack of acceptance on behalf of the man. She fears she is no longer desirable and suspects the existence of another sexual partner, thus misinterpreting the dysfunction as rejection. These feelings are frequently triggered by the attitude of the man who, in his effort to make excuses for himself, often puts the blame on the woman.


New developments in medical treatment

Three medicines for the treatment of ED are currently marketed, known as selective inhibitors of PDE-5. The first that was released was sildenafil, and later two other substances, vardenafil and tadalafil were developed. At the beginning of the year 2006, it was announced* that use of vardenafil immediately restores erectile function in a great percentage of men. More specifically, after a three-month treatment with 5-20 mg of the medicine, 32-49% of men achieved restoration of erectile function. The substances administered for the treatment of ED are also found to significantly aid the quantitative recovery of both sperm counts and sperm motility. According to a later review **, men taking vardenafil on a daily basis were found to have a better sperm mobility, in terms of both quality and quantity, and higher total sperm count per ejaculation.


* Published in the prominent scientific journal “The Journal of Sexual Medicine”.

** Published in “The Asian Journal of Andrology”, 2007.


Published in “The Journal of Sexual Medicine” and the “Asian Journal of Andrology”, 2007