Erectile Dysfunction—A Warning for Your Health
Half of Canadian men aged 40 to 70 are affected by erectile dysfunction yet most don’t know this common condition can be a warning of more serious health issues.
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According to Dr. Jeffrey Campbell, a urologist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s) in Ontario, Canada, erectile dysfunction can be a sign of cardiovascular disease or an impending heart attack within two to three years from when a patient first experiences an issue with their erection.
How the body works
Getting and maintaining an erection is controlled by the vascular system, also called the circulatory system, made up of the vessels that carry blood throughout the body. “The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than the blood vessels in the heart,” says Dr. Campbell. “If those smaller vessels are affected and causing erectile dysfunction, it can be an early indicator of vascular disease.”
What causes erectile dysfunction?
A number of conditions can trigger erectile dysfunction such as diabetes, obesity, poor blood supply, low testosterone and problems with the physical structures that close off the veins in the penis. “It’s rare for erectile dysfunction to be caused by one singular issue,” adds Dr. Campbell. “One of the most underappreciated causes of erectile dysfunction is psychological. A lot of men have a belief of how things should perform and they get performance anxiety or worries about their sexual function.” Medication side-effects can also cause erectile issues adding to the complexity of men seeking treatment for mood disorders such as depression.
Talking about it is the first step
Dr. Campbell encourages men to seek out medical advice early for erectile dysfunction to get to the root of the problem. However, opening up about difficulties in the bedroom can be uncomfortable. “A lot of men don’t want to believe anything is wrong and as soon as they discuss it they feel like they’re a failure. I remind my patients, this is a normal, natural physiological process and there is no need to be embarrassed.”
Treatment for erectile dysfunction
There are treatment options available ranging from counselling to surgery. Dr. Campbell discussed the various treatments for erectile dysfunction with award winning Canadian journalist Ian Gillespie on St. Joseph’s DocTalks Podcast. “Each individual treatment plan is unique and it’s important for patients to know there is help.”
Listeners can tune into the DocTalks Podcast for free on their computer or smart device through established platforms like Apple Podcast and Spotify. Each episode features a trending health care conversation, including insights on leading-edge treatments and research from an expert physician. Listen and subscribe to DocTalks Podcast wherever you get your podcasts or visit sjhc.london.on.ca/podcast.
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is one of the best academic health care organizations in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research.