Are You Healthy Enough for Sex?
You’ve heard the ads – Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sex.
The short answer – from UW Health male sexuality specialist Dr. Daniel Williams – is that if your heart is strong enough that you can walk up two flights of stairs without being winded, you are healthy enough for sex.
But here’s what Dr. Williams thinks his patients should ask: I’m having problems with sexual performance; am I healthy?
Sexual performance issues, known more formally as erectile dysfunction, can be the first warning of underlying health conditions, Williams says. And often erectile dysfunction will bring a man to the doctor before other concerns.
A Warning Sign
Untreated diabetes is one such culprit. High blood sugar damages the blood vessels, leading to problems from your eyes to your toes. But because the penis has the smallest blood vessels in the body, it can be first to sustain damage from diabetes.
Another common issue is underlying cardiovascular problems. High cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood can also damage the blood vessels. And if you’re on a drug for low blood pressure, it also lowers the pressure to your penis, which can cause concerns.
The good news is that even if these health problems are affecting your ability to get and sustain an erection, there is plenty of help available.
The first-line treatments are the drugs of the type you see advertised on television. The only men who absolutely can’t take them are those who are on nitroglycerine-type drugs for heart problems.
The pills work for 65 to 75 percent of men, which is a good response rate. The problem is that some men have significant side effects, including severe headaches, facial flushing, pulmonary hypertension and others. The pills are also expensive, and not usually covered by insurance.
Second-line treatments are injections that men can give themselves in the base of the penis, pelletized pills they can put into their penis, or vacuum pumps.
A third option is a penile implant that can be pumped up when needed. This option requires surgery, but does have the highest patient and partner satisfaction rates.
So talk to your doctor, about whether you’re healthy enough and what options you have.
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Date Published: 06/09/2016