As the end of Men’s Health Month approaches, it is important to acknowledge that men often do not visit the doctor unless there is a serious issue or concern. In addition to exercising and a healthy diet, men need to make sure they are up to date on important health screenings to focus on preventative care and health maintenance.
One area that remains a stigma for many men is erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is a condition that can develop with age, and in some instances may be an indication of a serious underlying condition. The definition of ED is trouble getting or keeping an erection that is firm enough for sex.
It is never too late to improve your health, no matter how old you are or what your current health status is. Here are five things to know to remove the stigma, seek care and educate on the importance of preventative care when it comes to ED.
- First things first. You are not alone. ED is a common problem that affects millions of men. According to the American Urological Association, ED affects as many as 30 million men. More importantly, ED may be an early warning sign of a bigger issue or condition such as vascular disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. In fact, it is not uncommon for men who present with ED to be diagnosed with another underlying condition.
- Eating healthy matters. Research has shown that a healthy diet that includes natural foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish help decrease the likelihood of ED. Diets that include lots of fatty, fried, refined grains and processed meat can contribute to decreased blood circulation throughout the body.
- Vascular health is important. Make sure to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. High blood pressure or high cholesterol can damage blood vessels. The ideal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80.
- Start moving. Exercising more can have an immediate beneficial effect. A brisk walk, running, swimming and other forms of heart-pumping exercises have been shown to help prevent ED. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying there is a good strategy for avoiding ED.
- Don’t ignore your body. Men are notorious for not seeing their primary care doctor regularly. Even if you feel healthy, annual check-ups are important and gives your doctor an opportunity to perform a thorough physical exam and update medical history. These annual check-ups can identify potential problems before they become serious. Prevention is the best medicine.
Remember it is not unusual for men who present to their doctor with a complaint of ED to sometimes be diagnosed with another condition. It is important to start that conversation with your doctor early.