Dr. Thaddeus Bell, a family practice physician, describes erectile dysfunction and its common causes.
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Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Erectile dysfunction is a common medical problem that men are present with. Over the past several months men particularly African-American men have been more comfortable talking about erectile dysfunction. It was a medical problem that men in general did not like to talk about because they felt intimidated with the subject. Erectile dysfunction and the other thing I would like the folk to understand that we have about 18 million men annually complaining about Erectile dysfunction and that number might be growing and we are now seeing that more men having problems with Erectile dysfunction as a result of the medical conditions that can contribute to the dysfunction. But Erectile dysfunction is when a man does not have the ability to get an erection or satisfaction erection to have intercourse. The problems that significantly contribute to it are diabetes, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, medications that patients take for hypertension, lack of exercise, alcoholism and often times depression. We are now noticing that men who diagnose with having diabetes, I have seen on a number of occasions, men presenting to the office with the complement of not being able to get it up and when in fact we checked and we found out that they were diabetics. And we now know that if you don't keep your diabetes under control then you are more likely to have a problem with Erectile dysfunction. The other condition that we found that I didn't mentioned earlier that a lot of folk do not appreciate and that's the relationship between smoking and Erectile dysfunction. If you smoke over a long period of time, it is a very good possibility that you will develop Erectile dysfunction and unfortunately it is a unforgiving condition. In other words if you smoke and you do damage to the arteries. The arteries can't return back to their normal state once the damage has been done. Think of it like this. The same smoke that causes damage to your heart, those arteries and vessels are no different then the arteries and vessels that go to your penis. And so anything that can affect your heart can also affect your penis. We are now noticing that men who stay physically active over a long period of time are more likely to have satisfactory erections than men who are sedentary, men who are couch potatoes and men who don't do anything. The data also suggest that even if you have elevated cholesterol and I have seen patients who have presented to me, who we have worked up the diabetes and elevated cholesterol and hypertension and the only thing that we found was that their cholesterol was very, very high and when we treated the cholesterol then the ability to get erections that they were satisfied with improved significantly. Of course we have always known -- the medical science has always known that alcohol will prevent a man from having good erections and of course I don't think that the public and that men appreciate that if you drink a lot alcohol that's in the beer or in the wine or in the liquor will cause you not to be able to get a good erections. So I always tell the men that I see who present to me with having problems with their nature, that's the way African-Americans talk about it. They come in and they don't use the word Erectile dysfunction, they used the word Nature. They come in and say, well I am having problems with my nature. Then I immediately begin to look for diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, smoking and I also forward for evidence of some kind of depression that may also be contributing to it.

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