By SAD GUY
I am in my 30s. I don’t know exactly when or why it started but I’ve been having performance issues in the bedroom lately. My sexy time with my wife isn’t like what it used to be before; back then I could go for seconds when once was not enough.
But now I have a problem maintaining an erection even for the first round. And that worries me because it points to erectile dysfunction despite me being relatively young.
Erectile dysfunction is often perceived as waning masculinity, which is why it is a topic that men are not comfortable dealing with. This stigma attached to erectile dysfunction drives men with the condition, especially younger men like me, to suffer in silence.
For me, the hard times are over. Limp has become the new four-letter word.
Being where I am right now, I warrant just a Grade 2 or at most 3 on the Erection Hardness Score on quality of erection (2 means I can get an erection but it’s not hard enough for sex; 3 is when it’s erect enough for penetration but not completely hard).
At least I am thankful not to be a Grade 1, which means there is just a stirring in the loins and nothing else. Grade 4, by the way, is Dwayne Johnson. So when a man finds himself between Grades 1 and 3, he is in trouble as he has some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Initially, I blamed it on job stress. I even took leave to go on holiday with wife, thinking that a getaway on an island with the sound of waves crashing upon the shore would put me in an amorous mood. The plan didn’t work out and I ended up with more anxiety.
I made excuses that I was tired from work so wasn’t up for it. But I knew that I couldn’t carry on feigning fatigue and rebuffing my wife in the long-term. After some time, she began to ask questions like whether there was something not right with my manhood.
By then I already suspected that I’ve got erectile dysfunction, but I couldn’t believe it because I thought it only happened to older men. Then I learnt that a 2013 survey found “one in four patients seeking first medical help for new onset of erectile dysfunction was younger than 40 years”.
I trawled the Internet for solutions to my disorder and found pelvic floor muscle exercises for erectile dysfunction. I am supposed to squeeze the muscles of my anus, like I am holding a bowel movement.
I also looked up herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction. However, I changed my mind about self-medicating after reading an article that raises concerns over the widespread use of herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction without medical supervision.
It says in the article that just because something is a plant or plant-based doesn’t mean there are no side-effects, and that male health supplements featuring traditional natural ingredients should be taken with caution as they are not always as safe as they are marketed to be.
In the end, I opened up to a close friend about my problem. He advised me to just drop whatever I was doing and go see a doctor as soon as possible.
He said I shouldn’t be taking chances with recommendations from the Internet when it’s a serious matter, that I needed to sort out whatever underlying problems affecting my sex life.
As I have a demanding job and I smoke, drink and am also a bit overweight, I won’t be surprised that I tick some of the boxes on the long list of common physical causes of erectile dysfunction provided by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse, sleep disorders, and certain prescription medications.
There’s more on the list and they sound rather sinister: clogged blood vessels, metabolic syndrome (a condition involving increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie’s disease (development of scar tissue inside the penis), treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate, and surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.
Then there are psychological causes as well such as depression, anxiety and, of course, stress.
My friend advised me to come clean with my wife in the meantime. Tell her what’s going on, he said. When she knows what’s going on, I can eliminate the elephant in the (bed)room, this unspoken thing that is affecting our relationship.
The best advice my friend gave me is: seek professional medical attention. After all, erectile dysfunction is treatable, so why prolong the agony.