Sex Talk: Why can't I get an erection?
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions
Q: Please advise me on impotence. I don't get an erection at all. This is affecting my relationship and sex life.
A: Men often avoid having sex and intimacy due to the emotional distress associated with erectile dysfunction. As in your case, lack of a satisfactory sex life can cause strained relations with your partner. It is often the result of feeling rejected or inadequate that makes people seek help.
Impotence/erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse or the inability to achieve ejaculation, or both. The main characteristic is that the dysfunction is persistent, and the treatment for it has to be well-considered.
The risk of impotence increases with age and the incidence is four times higher in men in their 60s than it is in those in their 40s, according to a study published in the Journal of Urology in 2000.
Some causes of erectile dysfunction can be medical: prostate problems, chronic sleep disorders, high levels of blood cholesterol, alcohol use and steroid abuse by some bodybuilders.
Other chronic diseases such as renal disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, or the medications used to treat them, can have side effects leading to impotence. Smoking remains one of the worst lifestyle habits that exacerbate the effects of the other risk factors.
It is important to research the options available to you for erectile dysfunction; they have to be supported by research, fit in with your lifestyle and meet your desired outcome. Weigh up the risks and benefits before committing to invasive procedures.
Always consult your doctor or urologist for a medical examination and treatment options.
• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za
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