Men's health

Erectile dysfunction (Erection problems)

A fulfilled sex life is indispensable for most functioning partnerships. So it is all the more problematic when sexual intercourse no longer satisfies both partners: if it doesn't last long enough – or no longer happens at all – because of erection problems.

Men in particular appreciate the good feeling of being immediately ready whenever love is on the agenda. This requires an erection, the natural response to sexual stimuli. However, the process does not always proceed as nature intended. There can be many different reasons why a man is unable to have intercourse with his partner. But this is only referred to as erectile dysfunction (ED) if he permanently fails to obtain an erection, and satisfying sex is no longer possible. In general, the term is used if most attempts at sexual intercourse over a period of more than three months are unsuccessful. Although not everyone talks about it, many men are affected by ED. The risk of ED generally increases with age.

Erection problems usually have organic causes

An erection is the result of a perfect interaction of nerve signals, neurotransmitters and muscle cells. This sensitive interaction is disturbed when a man has erection problems. Stress or psychological problems are hardly ever solely or directly responsible when things are not going well in bed. On the other hand, stress can lead to a lifestyle that ultimately furthers the development of erection problems – for example, if smoking and alcohol, high blood pressure and obesity are involved. In fact. about 70 percent of all potency problems have organic causes. In other words, the complex interaction of nerve signals, neurotransmitters and muscle cells is disturbed.

The influence of other diseases

Circulatory and vascular diseases in particular affect a man's ability to have an erection. For example, insufficient venous occlusion in the erectile tissues can result in the outflow of blood from the penis being too strong at the decisive moment. A weak erection can also be a consequence of high blood pressure – because the associated deposits in the blood vessels impede the circulation in the penis. Unfortunately, a weakening erection can also be a side effect of a drug therapy that has been prescribed to fight high blood pressure. Another disease that can be accompanied by ED is diabetes, a metabolic disorder that also causes deposits in the blood vessels. This can ultimately disturb the flow of blood to such an extent that not enough flows into the erectile tissue. Furthermore, high levels of blood sugar often damage the nerves, which can in turn disturb the signal flow that triggers an erection.

Prostate disorders are also often linked to erection problems. Surgery, e.g. for carcinoma of the prostate, can damage nerves that are involved in the development of an erection.

Talk about it

If the problem persists over a longer period, talking about it openly is helpful. First, the partners should talk to each other. This is not always easy because most people don't talk much about their sexual thoughts, desires and problems.

If the man is indeed suffering from erectile dysfunction, a physician should be consulted.

Innovative therapies

Although the term erectile dysfunction was only coined relatively recently, erection problems have probably always existed. And since time immemorial men have been trying to do something about it, to give their organ greater stability. Rhinoceros powder, extracts from beetles, ginseng root – many different means have been tried out, although the success of such treatments has not been proven by clinical trials. By contrast, a class of active ingredients known as PDE5 inhibitors that have been extensively and successfully clinically tested has been available to men for several years now. These substances improve the inflow of blood into the penis – and with it the erection. Phosphodiesterase 5 or short PDE5 is an enzyme. One of this enzyme's normal functions is to ensure that an erection naturally subsides. Drugs that inhibit this enzyme thus stabilize the erection in men with erectile dysfunction. Bayer offers a PDE5 inhibitor that is effective and well tolerated, as proven by numerous clinical studies. This successful product has been on the market for several years in many countries.

The physician in conversation with the patient decides on a case-by-case basis which drug is best suited for a man. This enables a return to a fulfilling love life and thus to more satisfaction in the partnership.

Advice for patients

Each body reacts differently to medicines. Therefore it is impossible to tell which medicine works best for you. Please consult your physician.