5 Common Sexual Dysfunction Questions Answered - Men's Health Magazine Australia

5 Common Sexual Dysfunction Questions Answered

According to a doctor. - by Dr Joseph Santos

When things don’t work in the bedroom, we feel a wave of emotions. It can be embarrassing, awkward and hard to explain to your partner. As a GP in Sydney, I’ve treated plenty of men of all ages and backgrounds for sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. These types of conditions can carry quite a stigma, but they’re actually more common than you might think. In fact, erectile dysfunction (ED) affects up to 40% of Australian men and premature ejaculation (PE) affects up to 31% of Australian men.  

Because both ED and PE can be uncomfortable to talk about, there is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about them. Here are 5 common sexual dysfunction questions I get asked both in-person and online from men just like you.

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction refers to a problem that happens at any point of the sexual response cycle, from excitement and arousal to orgasm and resolution. Different types of sexual dysfunctions can prevent the individual or couple from experiencing sexual satisfaction throughout the activity. 

Two of the most common sexual dysfunctions in men are erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

What is the difference between ED and PE?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man is unable to attain or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sex. Premature ejaculation (PE) is when a man ejaculates earlier than he or his partner would like, oftentimes within 1 to 3 minutes of sexual activity. 

ED and PE often get confused for one another, but they’re actually quite different. Here’s a quick breakdown to help differentiate the two:

With erections Getting hard and staying hard is, well, hard. Your erection may not be as hard as you want it to be.  You can get fully hard when you want to, and it stays hard until you ejaculate.
With ejaculation There’s no problem with finishing too quickly or maintaining control over when you’re ejaculating. Ejaculation happens more quickly than you or your partner would like, usually within a few minutes.
Treatments available Prescription oral tablets like PDE5 inhibitors.  Prescription oral tablets like SSRIs, as well as wipes and sprays.

For men that experience both ED and PE at the same time, you may be prescribed a combination treatment plan to help manage both.

How Quick Is Premature Ejaculation?

Does age matter when it comes to ED and PE?

One question I get asked regularly has to do with age. There’s a common misconception that ED only affects older men, and that PE only affects younger men who don’t have a lot of sexual experience. However, neither of these is true: 1 in 4 men with ED is younger than 40 years old, and multiple studies have shown that PE is common in adult men irrespective of age.

What should I do if I have ED or PE?

The first step in a suitable treatment plan is identifying whether there is an underlying issue that is causing the sexual dysfunction.

There are physical, psychological and lifestyle factors that can cause ED. Making lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting drinking alcohol and smoking could all potentially help treat ED. These lifestyle changes could also help with some physical causes of erectile dysfunction, such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, if there are psychological reasons for erectile dysfunction, you may consider counselling or therapy to help unpack the reasons behind the ED first.

With PE, there are two types: lifelong premature ejaculation and acquired premature ejaculation. Lifelong PE is caused by a chemical imbalance in the part of the brain that controls ejaculation and has been a problem since your first sexual encounter. Acquired PE is often caused by psychological or physical factors and became an issue after previously having sexual experiences without early ejaculation. It’s important to address the underlying physical or psychological factors that are leading to premature ejaculation.

The first thing you should do if you have ED or PE is talk to a medical professional. You can either go to your GP, or you can use a digital health service that connects you with licensed doctors online. No matter what option you choose, make sure you choose a doctor you can trust and that you are receiving holistic care. Make sure they are thorough with your medical history and follow-ups after you’ve been prescribed a treatment plan.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction? It’s Not Entirely Your Fault

Is it possible to get real treatments online?

Yes, it is possible to get real prescription treatments online. When you search for “ED treatment” or “PE treatment” on Google, you’re inundated with results claiming to have amazing results with very little evidence to back it up. Prescription medications for ED, including PDE5 inhibitors like Sildenafil and Tadalafil, have been clinically proven to help treat ED. There are also prescription tablets for PE, including SSRIs like Dapoxetine and Paroxetine, that have been shown to help treat PE.

Digital health services connect you to doctors that can evaluate your individual medical history and symptoms to determine whether prescribing a treatment plan online is suitable, or whether you should go see a GP in person for further investigation. While digital health services can be convenient, there shouldn’t be any substitutes for quality of care.

When it comes to sexual dysfunctions like ED and PE, many men feel uncomfortable talking about it, let alone seeking treatment. This Men’s Health Week, let’s open the conversation around these common issues and help break the stigmas. 

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