Smoking doubles ED risk

A survey done by the Boston Area Community Health done over a 9-year period showed that the incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) was twice as high amongst smokers compared to non-smokers.

The survey investigated the association between smoking (active and passive smoking) and erectile dysfunction (ED). With 5506 respondents [2301 men, and 3205 women) the study revealed a strong association between smoking and ED.

Erectile dysfunction
There are over 152 million men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. “Erectile dysfunction is an inability to get and / or keep an erection that allows sexual activity with penetration. It is not a disease, but a symptom of some other problem, either physical, psychological or a mixture of both”.

ED is a sensitive and often embarrassing topic among men but one which should be taken seriously. ED does not only affect a men’s sexual life but can lead to severe health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer among others.

Local focus
Says Professor Elna McIntosh, President of the Sub-Saharan Africa Society of Sexual Health Advisors, Educators, Researchers & Therapists, eighty percent of men with ED have one or more identifiable contributing causes such as neurological problems and vascular problems, and a high percentage of the incidence of ED is caused by cigarette smoking.

ED can put strain in relationships as men often fall short in providing sexual satisfaction to their partners and may therefore feel a profound sense of loss – of ability to perform, of desire, and of self-esteem. “This, in turn, may lead to feelings of uselessness,” says McIntosh.

The first step to treatment of ED is to talk about it. McIntosh provides some advice, “Simply prescribing a drug is not enough to ensure success in restoring the patient’s sex life, as only 40% of men ever fill the prescription, and only 15% get repeats. It is important to spend time with the patient and offer support”.

Nicorette, the leading provider of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in South Africa, runs a smoking cessation programme that offers psychological support to smokers who are considering quitting. “We realise that the link between smoking and ED is prevalent and try to help our patients by supporting them along the quitting journey”, says Vanessa Sew Chung Hong, brand manager of Nicorette.

It is important to educate men about ED. For example, a common myth is that a single erection failure means erectile dysfunction, which is not the case.

(- Adapted from a press release issued by DRAFTFCB Redline, Health24 August 2009)

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