With the festive season upon us and holidays such as Christmas fast approaching, it’s a time often spent with loved ones. Whether it’s walking around a cosy Christmas market or spending New Year’s Eve with a partner, it’s undoubtedly a romantic time of the year. For men living with erectile dysfunction (ED), however, there can be an increased pressure on them to perform, and increased anxiety around sex.
Erectile dysfunction, sometimes referred to as impotence, is when a man fails to get or keep an erection consistently. It’s more common in men over 40 but it can affect men of any age and can be caused by underlying health issues such as diabetes or mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Why is erectile dysfunction an issue during the festive period?
The festive season can be a stressful time for many of us, so during this time, some of the psychological and lifestyle factors that can cause ED could be made worse. These factors could be things like financial pressures due to Christmas shopping stress, overindulging on food and alcohol or social pressures. Stress and anxiety that is brought on around the festive period can make it hard for your body to focus on becoming aroused.
People often drink alcohol more frequently during the festive period with Christmas parties and New Year’s celebrations. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it difficult to maintain and sustain an erection as alcohol acts as a depressant and slows the signals from the central nervous system (the brain and spinal column) to the penis. The signals tell the vessels in the penis and erectile tissue to dilate and relax which increases blood flow and leads to an erection. Alcohol is also a diuretic which means it makes a person urinate more frequently, leading to dehydration, which lowers the overall blood volume and therefore there is less blood flow to the penis.
- Reduced physical activity and diet
During the winter, it’s tempting to exercise less due to the cold weather and short days making us rather stay indoors. Our diets can also change during December, eating heavier and richer meals and even eating more than usual. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent some of the physical causes of erectile dysfunction so when these healthy habits slip during Christmas time, the symptoms of ED can return.
Managing Erectile Dysfunction during the holidays
It’s important to understand that there can be a number of triggers for the condition such as obesity, high stress, alcohol-consumption or secondary to other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Working on a few simple lifestyle changes could help improve the situation, as could open and frank discussions with their partner on how together they can reduce performance stress.
During the festive period, men living with ED should be careful when consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and to maintain a healthy diet so as not to increase their chances of impotency. Talking to a partner about performance anxiety could also help to relieve stress and pressure around sex and help your partner to understand how to better support you. You may also wish to explore other forms of intimacy outside of sex to relive the pressure.
It is possible to buy ED treatments such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra from a pharmacy, which can help with ED. If the ED is secondary to a medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or a swollen prostate, a GP will be able to help advise you on the best course of action.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options
A range of medical treatments can be obtained that can help patients maintain an erection which are available through local chemists. These treatments work well for large numbers of people and can make a significant difference to men’s sexual performance. However, they do not work adequately in around 40% of men, particularly where the ED is secondary to other medical conditions such as nerve damage or diabetes, so there is a need for further work and research.
MAC Clinical Research are currently undertaking a ground-breaking clinical trial developing a potential new treatment for ED, which works on the brain and erectile tissue in the penis. Unlike drugs such as Viagra (which increases blood flow to the penis) this investigational medication enhances the effects of substances in the body such as dopamine to help stimulate an erection (helps sexual desire) and relaxes smooth muscle in the penis to help maintain and sustain an erection. MAC are dedicated to improving the lives of men with ED for whom lifestyle changes or other over the counter medicine hasn’t worked, and hope that this new medication will help. If you’re interested in finding out more about this ED research and the £1,496 reimbursement eligible volunteers will receive, visit MAC’s ED Research webpage.