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Erectile Dysfunction Myths And Truths: Setting The Record Straight

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 16, 2022.

Myth: Cause of Erectile Dysfunction Is Old Age

Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is common among older men, that doesn't mean you have to just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. Many men still enjoy sex well into their senior years and there's no reason you can't be one of them.

In fact, ED should be viewed as a medical condition that requires a medical solution, as often there is an underlying problem that also requires treatment.

You would not leave heart problems untreated as you age, so don't ignore ED.

Fact: Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction Are Often Medical

A lot of different processes in your body have to work together to produce an erection - hormones, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, your heart, and your brain. A disruption to any one of these could lead to erectile dysfunction (ED).

Common conditions associated with ED include diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, neurological disorders, and hormone imbalances. In addition, ED is more likely if you are stressed, anxious or depressed. Alcohol and smoking contribute to the problem and so do some prescription medicines.

Myth: Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Like Viagra Or Cialis Are The Best Treatment

Although taking a pill, such as Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil), Stendra (avanafil), or Cialis (tadalafil) is the most popular way to treat ED, it may not be the most effective way, and some men may experience side effects.

One of the most effective treatments involves injecting a medication directly into the penis. Sounds drastic, but in fact the needle used is so fine that most men hardly feel a thing, and this treatment is less likely to aggravate preexisting medical conditions or interfere with any medications you may be taking.

Fact: Lifestyle Changes Improve Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

Late nights, fast food, too much alcohol, and not enough exercise, all effect your sexual performance. One of the best things you can do to improve ED is to lose weight if you are overweight. Also stop smoking if you smoke. Smoking contributes to high blood pressure and to artery clogging which can slow your blood circulation.

Regular exercise improves your overall general health and can help deal with stress and depression. Making a few lifestyle changes can go along way to reducing symptoms of ED.

Myth: Tight Underwear Causes Erectile Dysfunction

If you prefer support over freedom but worry those tight briefs will lead to ED, then don't. No study has every been able to prove an association between ED and tight underwear.

However, there is some evidence that tight underwear may reduce fertility. Sperm like to be kept a bit cooler than the rest of your body and increased scrotal temperatures can hamper sperm production. So if baby-making is on the agenda, then best keep things cool down there.

Myth Or Fact? Cycling Causes Erectile Dysfunction

Many studies have looked into the association between cycling and ED with mixed results. There is some evidence that long-distance riding does contribute to ED, with some studies reporting incidence rates of around 19% in men who ride more than 250 miles per week. In addition, many men who cycle also report perineal numbness during the ride that was associated with temporary ED.

However, a more recent study that surveyed over 5000 cyclists (many of them cycling more than eight hours a week) found no association between cycling and ED or cycling frequency and distance and infertility.

However, the researchers did notice that the risk of prostate cancer increased in relation to hours spent on a bike, particularly in men over 50.

Myth: Impotence Only Affects My Sex Life

If your sexual performance is not how you would like it, then it's only natural to feel frustrated. Many men also develop low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes they may become aggressive or depressed, which then starts to affect everyone in their household.

ED is an easily treatable problem. Talk to your doctor or a health clinic before it starts interfering with your life.

Fact: Think Twice Before You Buy Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Online

Google "Erectile Dysfunction Treatments" and you'll be bombarded with over 51 million hits. But be warned. Not everything is what it says it is. An FDA investigation showed that more than one-third of "dietary supplements" sold for ED actually contained prescription drugs, including sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Others contained entirely different medicines, of no use whatsoever for ED, such as antibiotics.

Counterfeit drugs are also rife. What may look like Viagra or Cialis, may in fact be a very clever copy, likely to contain only a miniscule amount of the drug, if any at all.

Always consult a doctor about your ED and buy your drugs from a reputable drug store.

Myth: Natural Remedies For Erectile Dysfunction Are Effective Treatment Options

Red ginseng, Rhodiola, L-arginine, pomegranate juice, and acupuncture have all been touted as effective treatments for ED. Unfortunately most of the studies investigating these compounds or treatments have been small, and results barely significant.

The biggest problem with some supposedly "herbal remedies", apart from not working, is that they may contain hidden prescription ingredients such as vardenafil (the active ingredient in Levitra). This could lead to serious side effects or drug interactions if you haven't had a proper doctor's consult.

Finished: Erectile Dysfunction Myths And Truths: Setting The Record Straight

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  • Erectile Dysfunction Myths and Facts. Boston Medical Group.
  • Erectile Dysfunction. Mayo Clinic.
  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence) - Treatment NHS Choices.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Viagra and other oral medications. Mayo Clinic 2022.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.