High-flying jobs, unemployment, financial woes, stressed-out partners and societal pressures – never have men had so many issues bearing down on them and affecting their sexual health, two experts in Durban have said.
Ana Puigvert, a professor of andrology, surgeon and sexual health researcher from Barcelona, and Dr Etienne Kok, a sexual health physician and senior lecturer in urology at the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria, were in Durban this week to speak to doctors and pharmacists about advances in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).
As sexual health specialists, both have seen a rise in the number of young men with ED.
“When a young man seeks help for ED, it is usually a problem that is more than just physical,” Puigvert said.
“As sexual health doctors, we look at the whole man – his general health, whether he is facing stress at home and in society, and whether his health is being affected by alcohol, drugs and smoking, all of which can cause ED.”
Kok said he was seeing many young men in his sexual health clinic in Pretoria.
“Many men have a problem with condom use, which can lead to ED. Condom use is essential, so it is important to treat the ED,” he said.
Puigvert said the changing roles of women were affecting men’s sexual performance.
“With increasing numbers of women becoming strong, successful, and even aggressive, the male-female roles are shifting,” she said.
“Women are not as passive as they were in previous years and many men find this difficult. They are trying to be metrosexual men too and they are confused about their roles. This is having an effect on their sexual health.”
Books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” caused men – and women – to feel that always being ready for sex was the new standard, said Kok. And while it was good that sex was being written about and talked about, it also caused both sexes to feel inadequate when they didn’t meet that standard.
“We find the same with pornography,” Puigvert said.
“People see this as a new standard and feel they are falling woefully short of it. Boys are seeing pornography when they are too young, they are neither hormonally nor emotionally ready for sex and it is having a negative effect.”
Sexual health should be viewed in a wider context, said the doctors.
“ED could be a symptom of a condition like diabetes or depression,” said Kok, “and sometimes the one causes the other – ED can cause depression and depression can cause ED. It may be symptomatic of a relationship problem which would require a different approach. A man’s sexual problems affect his partner too.”
Medication has given hope to men with ED and a new development from Bayer Healthcare, just released in South Africa, is Levitra ODT, a tablet which is placed on the tongue and melts almost immediately.
“The fact that it can be taken discreetly, without the need for water, works within 10 minutes, and has a lasting effect, is really what sets this new ED pill apart,” Puigvert said.
There was growing awareness that sexual health was lifelong and people in their 60s, 70s and even 80s were leading active sex lives, which was good news for their health.
“The human body is the perfect machine,” said Puigvert. “Sex raises the systolic blood pressure, in a good way. It boosts the mood through its effect on neurotransmitters. In short, it is good for you!”