Discussing things about your intimate life with physicians isn’t always an easy conversation. But it’s surely an important one for your physical and mental well-being.
Forty three year-old Dubai resident C.Y., is diabetic. He approached Prof. Dr Haluk Kulaksizoglu, an Andrology and Urology Specialist, about three years ago to address his concerns about maintaining a healthy intimate relationship.
“I was too shy to express my feelings. I also thought I was too young to have any sexual problems,” he says.
“I felt nervous sharing details of my personal life with a doctor. But, when I met Dr Kulaksizoglu at his clinic, he instantly put me at ease, giving me conﬁdence that I would soon be fine.”
C.Y. adds, “My doctor explained how diabetes could affect the body functions and that this was a common problem even among younger men. After evaluating my vascular system and hormonal status, Dr Kulaksizoglu prepared a treatment plan for me.”
While it is not unusual for men to experience some sort of sexual dysfunction during their lifetime, opening up about these sensitive issues can often be challenging, raising the feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and inadequacy in them. As a result, most people simply hesitate to even admit to these problems or seek any professional help.
For men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common medical problems related to their sexual health. While there are no statistical data on the actual incidence of ED in the UAE, urologists suggest that the prevalence of this condition is significantly high.
“Looking at the incidence of causative factors such as diabetes, coronary diseases, high cholesterol and high body mass indices in the UAE, at least one in three men between the ages 40 and 70 suffers from ED,” says Dr Kulaksizoglu, who is now associated with Dubai’s newly-opened American Aesthetic Medical Center.
“Even though the reported rate of the disease is very high, people do not go to doctors to address this problem. ED stays as a hidden health problem in men.”
People need to understand that erectile dysfunction (ED) is a disease and it should be treated like any other ailment. This is not a condition that a patient should be guilty of.
Over the past two decades, an enormous body of data and information has been gathered about the physiology of erection and factors affecting the condition. It is now widely understood that problems with nerves and blood vessels are the primary causes of ED.
Diabetes, vascular disease, coronary heart disease, smoking, hypertension, obesity, major neurological problems such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, and problems of the spinal cord are some of critical factors contributing to ED.
“Most of the chronic conditions that affect blood circulation, neuronal transmission and the hormonal balance can cause ED,” says Dr Kulaksizoglu.
“Penile injures as well as trauma of the vasculature or nerves of the organ also cause erectile problems. Sometimes, during the oncological procedures to remove the tumors of rectum, prostate or bowels, the nerves in the organ are sacrificed, leading to this vexing problem.”
This sensitive health ailment is closely related to the psychology of the patient as well.
“Earlier, urologists used to try differentiating psychological issues from the organic causes. But as we started to understand the physiology of the process, it is evident that if a man has an organic cause it is inevitable to also experience psychological problems and vice versa,” he explains.
However, the good news is with a range of effective treatment procedures and lifestyle changes, doctors can cure the condition and, in some cases, completely reverse the symptoms of ED, allowing patients to lead meaningful lives.
Management of ED
“Today we have all the options necessary for treating ED and to help a patient return to his normal life,” says Dr Kulaksizoglu. “We can create a treatment plan based on the patient’s specific pathology and the severity of the condition. These treatments can be surgical and non-surgical.”
When asked how diet and lifestyle can cause or prevent the condition, Dr Kulaksizoglu says, “What is good for your cardiac health is always good for your erectile functioning. Studies have shown that diets high on sugar, cholesterol and salt cause sexual dysfunction”
Eating a balanced diet along with regular exercise and adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining the overall health and well-being. He, however, cautions that cycling, when practiced for too long and without any proper protective gear, may be damaging to the vascular and nerves to the penile tissues.
“Smoking can also impact the blood flow to the organ. Chronic smoking causes atherosclerosis, with low oxygen concentration leading to problems in erection. Stress and anxiety also play a role in erectile functioning.”
Dr Kulaksizoglu emphasizes that key to overcoming this sensitive issue is to scientifically explain and educate people about how our body functions, why men may have certain difficulties, and above all, that it is a treatable medical condition. The more people know about how their body works, the better they can manage their health problems.
“People need to understand that ED is a disease and it should be treated like any other ailment. This is not a condition that a patient should be guilty of,” says Dr Kulaksizoglu, adding, “If you feel that something is not right about your body or if you feel that you are not functioning as you used to be, ask for assistance. Physicians can help you with any symptoms you may have. However, you need to take the first step and ask for assistance.”
After undergoing a three-month treatment under Dr Kulaksizoglu, C.Y. now leads a healthy life. “I feel as if I have regained my youth. I got married two years ago and we have been blessed with a baby girl earlier this year. Thanks to the right treatment and understanding of my disease, I am happy as ever with my marriage and my life,” he says.