For men, discussing sexual health issues might be an uphill task because any indication of a challenge in this regard is usually considered to be an indictment of his masculinity. However, this shouldn’t be the case. In addition, sexual health issues can be a sore spot for men in relationships whose situations will largely impact on their partners.
For instance, 20 percent of couples are deemed to be infertile and while women are commonly seen as the root cause, especially in countries like South Africa, research suggests that men are 50% culpable too. This is why we think it is important for men to take their sexual health seriously and consult medical professionals if need be.
Below are a few sexual health issues faced by men, and the cause:
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Commonly referred to as impotence, this is when a man can no longer achieve or maintain an erection for intercourse. It could also be when a man experiences a marked decrease in sexual desire.
ED is often caused by an existing physical problem because for a person’s to become sexually aroused, his brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels all need to be functional – in tandem and individually. Possible causes of impotence include: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and blood pressure, low testosterone, excessive use of alcohol, etc.
This might not be a problem if it’s a one-off but if it becomes an ongoing issue, it can affect a man’s self-confidence and negatively impact his relationship.
- Low Sperm Count
Semen is the fluid containing the sperm a man ejaculates during intercourse. It is not the same as sperm, which can be likened to the passenger while the semen is the bus. If a man ejaculates semen that contains less sperm than normal, he is considered to have a low sperm count. This condition is also referred to as oligospermia, where as if an individual has zero sperm, it is known as azoospermia.
Low Sperm Count can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which are avoidable: smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, direct heat to the groin, and excessive intercourse (yes, this is a ‘thing’).
- Low Testosterone
Testosterone is the hormone that influences a man’s sex drive, as well as his muscle and bone strength in adulthood. Basically, testosterone is the key hormone that makes a man, a man – biologically speaking. Symptoms of low testosterone include: low libido, poor erectile function and an overall reduction of sexual activity. Low testosterone is often linked to other health issues like diabetes, obesity, infection, an additional hormone disorder, testicular cancer, etc.
- Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is a condition that occurs when fibrous scar tissue forms inside the penis. This scar tissue then causes a man’s erection to curve, which can result in significant pain and discomfort. Peyronie’s disease can be caused by an injury to the penis such that blood cells become trapped at the injury site, leading a build-up of scar tissue while the body tries to heal naturally.
Not all cases of Peyronie’s disease happen as a result of injury as it can occur gradually for some men as they age. However, there are both medical and surgical options available to treat the disease.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Also known as prostate enlargement, this is a natural aspect of ageing in men but can have adverse effects later on. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen out of the penis. When a man has BPH, the prostate is larger than usual so it squeezes the urethra. This can cause a weak stream when men pee and cause them to wake up a lot at night to go to the bathroom.
BPH isn’t prostate cancer and doesn’t make one more likely to get it.
It is a common condition, especially in older men but there are a lot of treatments for it, from lifestyle changes to surgery.