Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common healthcare issue in the UK, affecting approximately 50-55% of men between the ages of 40-70. Despite its prevalence, ED is still considered a taboo topic within society, and can lead to feelings of embarrassment and lower self-confidence for many men.
ED, also known as impotence, is a common condition that limits a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. To meet the clinical definition of erectile dysfunction, this condition normally persists for at least 3 months.
Erectile Dysfunction is common, with the equivalent of 4.3 million men in the UK suffering from it to some degree. It can occur at any age; it is increasingly common for younger men to be diagnosed with the condition. In fact, the latest NHS reports reveal 1 in 10 men will suffer from ED in their lifetime.
ED is not biased – it can affect any male and whilst it’s increasing common in older males, any age can experience ED.
Common risk factors for developing ED include but are not limited to:
Diagnosing the ‘root cause’ ED can be incredibly difficult due to the wide range of causes associated with it.
ED can be a one-off occurrence in some cases, this is not unusual and mainly occurs when a man is stressed, tired, anxious, or has consumed too much alcohol. This is usually nothing to worry about. However, for other males, it can be an ongoing issue caused by poor physical or emotional health. In these cases, ED can be a large contributor to stress, it can affect a man’s self-confidence, and lead to relationship problems. For some, it can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment.
When thinking of erectile dysfunction, many primarily perceive it as a ‘sexual issue’ for men. But for their partner, it can lead to a significant loss in self-esteem. Younger women are more likely to experience this loss in self-confidence, with 47% of those aged between 25 and 34 stating their confidence had been affected as a result of their partner’s ED, compared to 23% of those aged 65 and over. A study found across all ages found, 40% of women felt less confident due to their partners’ ED. In these cases, ED can lead to feelings of hurt and anger towards their partner. Undoubtedly, this may cause relationship problems, a loss of sexual desire, and stress for women too.
If it’s the first time it has happened, do not worry or panic. It is considered normal for most men to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection ‘up to 20%’ of the time. Usually, this is temporary or situational ED. Situational ED has several root causes such as stress, drug or alcohol consumption, smoking, fatigue, or inexperience. Therefore it is recommended you deal with the root cause of the issue – this may be limiting your alcohol intake, taking steps to reduce stress or stopping recreational drugs.
If this is an gongoing issue, and occurs often, you can look at treatment options. Visit Ann Summers x E-Pharmacy to find the correct ED treatment for you, or try natural remedies such as lifestyle changes.
Many studies have confirmed there is an association between ED and premature ejaculation. With ED, an inability to get erect or sustain an erection may mean a man ejaculates soon after he is erect due to his fear of losing his erection. It is not clear how one encourages or affects the other, but there is said to be a correlation between male sexual health issues.
ED does not have a direct link with infertility. However, being unable to get or maintain an erection means sexual intercourse is unable to happen, so the couple cannot conceive in this way. The sperm is not affected, however, meaning there are other options to conceive a baby together.
ED does not affect sperm count – these are two completely separate bodily functions.
For many men, erectile dysfunction can be reversed – this can be through medications or naturally (through lifestyle changes). Lifestyle changes to increase heart health, boost testosterone, and improve sleep (quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, reducing weight, and increasing exercise) can naturally reverse ED, and addressing psychological problems (unhealthy relationships, and mental health issues) can help reverse ED too. In cases where this is not possible, medications are useful for men to experience an improved erectile function.
There are also some natural remedies you can try to help you sustain an erection. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), natural treatments and herbal drugs are seeing a 15% growth in trade year-on-year. The most popular natural ED treatments are: Panax Gingseng, Yohimbe Bark, Horny Goat Weed, Ginkgo Extract. Unfortunately, the evidence for the effectiveness of these herbal treatments is not conclusive compared to prescription treatments. You should always make your doctor aware before trying any herbal treatments, as they can interact with other medications and pose a danger to your health.
Erectile dysfunction treatments are generally well tolerated when taken as prescribed. As with all medication, however, there is a risk of side effects. When taking ED pills, mild side effects may include headaches, dizziness, facial flushing, nasal congestion, indigestion, and muscle aches.
If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients found in these pills you should avoid them. If you’ve recently experienced a stroke or heart attack, or have low blood pressure, you should also avoid taking them. If you ever experience an erection lasting longer than 4 hours, this is considered a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible – this is known as Priapism and can damage the penis if not treated.
Erectile dysfunction medications are otherwise known as PDE5 inhibitors. PDE5 inhibitors inhibit the PDE5 enzyme that breaks down a molecule involved in increasing blood flow called cGMP. PDE5 inhibitors increase blood flow to the penis in response to sexual arousal. Simply put, PDE5 inhibition = more cGMP = harder and longer erections. This only occurs when a man is physically turned on.
Ann Summers x E-Pharmacy offers a range of regulated erectile dysfunction medications: Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Spedra. The ‘best medication’ depends on the needs and wants of the patient – some medications work slower and last for a shorter time, whereas other medications work quicker and last longer. Nevertheless, in the past few years, the treatment of ED has come a long way, and double-blind trials (accounting for the placebo effect) revealed PDE5 inhibitors have on average a high success rate of treating erectile dysfunction.
Viagra is the original PDE5 inhibitor. Sildenafil is the active component within Viagra – this is what makes it work. Sidenafil allows men to stay harder for longer by relaxing blood vessels in the penis and increasing blood flow. It works best if taken an hour before sex, and of course, one must be aroused for the medicine to work.
As Viagra has come off patent, generic versions (sildenafil) are available under a private prescription. These are available in 25mg, 50mg, as well as 100mg strengths. It is recommended to go for the generic option as it is cheaper, just as effective, and available in the strongest 100mg version.
Viagra Connect also contains the active substance sildenafil, and works through by increasing blood flow to the penis briefly, allowing men to get and maintain their erection whilst sexually stimulated. However, this is only available in the 50mg version.
Cialis is another popular ED drug. Cialis is the brand name for the drug Tadalafil. Often nicknamed ‘The Weekender’, it has a longer duration than Viagra, lasting from 24 to 36 hours. This doesn’t result in a 24 or 36-hour erection, it simply means that, if aroused in this time period a man will be able to perform. Cialis can become effective after half an hour, meaning you should take it in preparation for sex and not right before. Whilst the Cialis brand tends to be the most expensive, cheaper generics are available for Tadalafil and come in 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg strengths. Tadalafil also comes in a low strength 2.5mg and 5mg version to be taken every day, called Tadalafil daily. This is very convenient for some men, as it allows for spontaneous sexual activity at any time.
Levitra is another alternative. Produced by Bayer, the active ingredient is Vardenafil, which is an effective erectile dysfunction treatment for diabetic men who may not have found success with Viagra or Cialis. It acts more like Viagra than Cialis, taking anywhere between half an hour to an hour to take effect once swallowed. It lasts just a little longer than Viagra on average, clocking in at around 5 – 6 hours. It’s a relatively new drug, so is generally more expensive than Viagra or Cialis. It’s available in 10mg and 20mg strengths. Levitra may be effective in men that do not respond well to Viagra or Cialis, and those with diabetes.
Spedra is the last alternative. With the active ingredient being Avanafil, it can take as little as 15 minutes to take effect – if you are looking for a quick-acting ED pill, Spedra is the best option. In terms of total duration, it lasts a standard amount of time for ED pills at around 5 hours. It’s available in 50mg, 100mg and 200mg strengths.
When ordering ED treatment online it’s important to buy from reputable, registered online pharmacies - something which is sometimes hard to be sure of on the internet.
E-Pharmacy is a licensed UK pharmacy that can be accessed via the Ann Summers website. Customers can simply click the ‘E-Pharmacy’ button on the Ann Summers website, select the ED medication they need, fill in a health questionnaire, pay for their treatment, and get the medication delivered to their door. E-Pharmacy is a licensed UK pharmacy and uses the same high-quality suppliers as NHS pharmacies and hospitals.
Having conversations about sex with your partner can feel like a difficult thing to do but could hold the key to an amazing sex life. Find out how to approach it here.
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