Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a troubling and common condition that affects up to one in two sexually active men. It is generally considered to be an old man’s problem because one of the most common causes is low testosterone, which occurs with aging. In andropause, or male menopause, there is a gradual drop in testosterone levels from the age of 40. By the time men reach their 60s, the percentage of people with erectile dysfunction is estimated to be around 80%.

High cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, sleep disturbances, and prostate problems are some of the physical causes of erectile dysfunction as well. Dr Benjamin Loh of Dr Ben Medical, a men’s health clinic, said that in addition to lower levels of testosterone, “as a man ages, the likelihood of him developing prostate and prostate disease. lifestyle increases “.

More recently, Dr Loh has seen an increasing number of young men in their 30s suffer from erectile dysfunction. He says this is largely due to the high levels of stress they face at work or in their personal lives. Psychological causes like these account for about 20 percent of erectile dysfunction cases.

“The brain plays an important role in triggering a series of physical events that lead to an erection. And a number of factors can interfere with sexual feelings and make or cause erectile dysfunction, ”says Dr. Loh. “And in most cases, psychological problems, such as anxiety, cause erectile dysfunction in younger men.”

However, there is treatment for erectile dysfunction. Besides the conventional sildenafil drug, doctors also use extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), “a non-invasive procedure that has been shown to have promising results,” says Dr. Loh.

While the pills can help get the job done and are the most common form of treatment for erectile dysfunction, they cannot alter existing physiological processes associated with the condition. Sildenafil helps the arteries and muscles in the penis relax, allowing more blood to enter for an erection. But they are usually taken on demand and only work when there is a stimulus.

Dr Loh says these pills can have side effects as well – the most common being heartburn, nasal congestion, headaches, facial flushing, back pain, and sometimes temporarily impaired color vision. . “In rare cases, you may experience a painful erection that refuses to go away. The medical term for this is “priapism”. Patients with certain health problems should refrain from using [such pills]”Dr Loh warns.

How ESWT Works

ESWT has been used since the 1970s, but primarily to treat kidney stones. It was only in the last 10 years that doctors started using it to treat erectile dysfunction.

ESWT involves the use of a hand-held device that emits gentle pulses to repair and strengthen the blood vessels to improve blood circulation, as this is essential for achieving an erection. The operation, performed without anesthesia, lasts about 20 minutes.

Dr Loh explains, “It is effective in most patients who start the treatment plan. This not only improves the symptoms associated with erectile dysfunction, but can potentially reduce reliance on erectile dysfunction drugs. And it’s usually a painless procedure, although very few patients may experience slight discomfort. “

Patients may need a few treatment sessions, depending on their symptoms, adds Dr Loh: “In my experience, this especially helps patients with vasculogenic dysfunction. Vascular vascular dysfunction is erectile dysfunction caused by a problem with the blood vessels.

While erectile dysfunction is not life threatening, Dr. Loh stresses the importance of seeing a doctor early as it can be an early indication of an underlying medical problem. PHOTO: DR BEN MEDICAL

Get to the root of the problem

As more men seek professional help to treat their ED, Dr Loh believes there are still many who don’t. Normally, it is not until their ED has become severe and has started to seriously affect their quality of life that they see a doctor, he shares.

The reasons are varied. Some men are embarrassed to tell anyone about their problems, while others lack knowledge or are afraid. While erectile dysfunction by itself is not life threatening, it could be an early indication of an underlying medical problem that should be treated. Dr Loh therefore urges people with erectile dysfunction not to suffer in silence.

“It is extremely important that you seek help and find out the cause of your erectile dysfunction. You need to know if it’s related to chronic medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, low testosterone, and diabetes, or to rare conditions like a brain tumor.

For example, if the cause of erectile dysfunction is diabetes, in addition to treating the symptoms of ED, the patient’s blood sugar should be strictly monitored and controlled.

Dr Loh reiterates: “While the effects of erectile dysfunction do not always pose serious health concerns, the potential underlying causes of erectile dysfunction could be detrimental. He shares a rare case of one of his patients who came to see him for his ED and low energy level. Blood tests and scans later revealed that the cause was a benign brain tumor.

Dr. Loh assures people with the disease that most cases of erectile dysfunction can be reversed, and even when a permanent cure for erectile dysfunction is not possible, the right treatment can minimize symptoms. “Patients are often reassured when they experience tangible progress; and as a doctor it’s always rewarding when your patients are doing better, ”he says.

For more information on erectile dysfunction, visit drbenmedical.sg/extracorporeal-shockwave-therapy-singapore.

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