Many men experience problems with their erections at some point in their lives. If it happens only occasionally, perhaps during a busy or stressful period in your life, it’s not likely to be serious or long-lasting.
And different men experience erection issues in different ways: some can get an erection but cannot maintain it long enough for sex, for others their erection isn’t hard enough and some cannot achieve an erection at all.
In fact, 4.3 million men in the UK experience erectile problems*. Yet, some suffer for years before they approach a medical professional: one survey found that more than half of men (53%) ignored erectile dysfunction (ED) and failed to acknowledge it as a problem.
*Men reporting occasional and frequent difficulty getting or maintaining an erection [ref. Kantar TNS Omnibus Survey Dec 2010 – in a survey of 1,033 men]
The good news is you can ask your pharmacist – a highly-trained medical professional - for advice about ED, and there’s now an over-the-counter medicine available that may help treat your symptoms, in the form of VIAGRA Connect®.
We look at what could be hindering your erection and what you can do about it.
The main physical cause of ED is not enough blood flowing into your penis, so you cannot get and keep an erection when you are aroused sexually. This happens because the small vessels supplying blood to the penis during an erection become narrow or blocked.
You need healthy, well-functioning arteries and veins for reliable erections. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes can impair the penile blood flow necessary for maintaining an erection. If you know you have cardiovascular issues, you must tell the pharmacist; if the pharmacist suspects you may have an undiagnosed cardiovascular problem, they’ll direct you to your GP. Most men may be unaware that ED can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease.
VIAGRA Connect® works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis, so more blood can flow into it causing an erection when you are sexually aroused. VIAGRA Connect® gets to work within 30 to 60 minutes of taking a single dose in pill form and is effective for up to four hours.
Lack of exercise
Regular exercise improves circulation all round your body, including your penis, releases feel-good endorphins and keeps you fit and supple to be active in the bedroom too. Lack of exercise can lead to low mood and make you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, all of which are risk factors for ED (see above). Sit less and move more and find an exercise that you enjoy and can do regularly.
Nicotine has a direct effect on the blood vessels that carry blood to the penis, reducing the blood flow and making it more difficult to get and keep an erection. Your pharmacist will be able to give you advice on stopping smoking and over-the-counter treatments such as nicotine patches to help you quit.
Prescription medications such as antidepressants, high blood pressure tablets or treatment for prostate cancer may cause ED. Your pharmacist is a highly-trained expert in medicines; they will be able to tell you if this may be the case and refer you back to your GP if necessary.
Overweight and obese men have a higher rate of erectile dysfunction than men who maintain a healthier weight. Your pharmacist will be able to give you sound advice on exercise, healthy eating and keeping alcohol within recommended guidelines to help you lose weight if you need to.
Don’t neglect your oral health. You may be surprised to learn that gum disease is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction and is linked to serious health problems including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Your dentist and hygienist will be able to treat any existing gum disease and advise on regularly brushing your teeth and gums correctly.
You may be going through a particularly stressful time in your life: redundancy, divorce, retirement, medical operations or the death of someone close all take a psychological toll. This can lead to erectile problems without any physical cause. Taking more exercise, setting routines and goals or practising mindfulness meditation are all things that may lift your mood. When things are really getting you down, talking therapy and counselling arranged through your GP or privately can help.