defines sexual health as a “state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”(World Health Organization, 2006a)
Sexual Health Issues
There are many issues involved with sexual health some of them are sexual rights, sex education, sexual safety, sexual orientation, eroticism, gender equality, reproduction, and emotional attachment. However, for the purposes of this blog article I will focus on the treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Latex Condoms will significantly reduce the risk of catching or spreading a sexually transmitted disease. However, it is not a perfect method of protection and some risk still remains.
STDs are caused by parasites, bacteria, or viruses and they are infections that are transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity. Most STDs caused by parasites or bacteria can be treated successfully with antibiotics or other drug. STDs caused by viruses can not be cured but most can be controlled to some degree with treatment.
In general STDs are more problematic for women than men. The symptoms are usually more severe for women than men and pregnant women with an STD might be exposing their unborn children to serious health risks.
Types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
There are more than twenty recognized STDs affecting people around the world. The most common are listed below.
- Gonorrhea – caused by bacteria; some people have no symptoms; treated with antibiotics
- Genital herpes – caused by a virus; some people have no or mild symptoms; can infect babies during childbirth; no cure but some drugs available for treatment
- Syphilis – caused by bacteria; dangerous to unborn children of pregnant women; easily treated with antibiotics
- HIV / AIDS – HIV is the virus and AIDs is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection; can infect babies during pregnancy and childbirth; no cure but drugs are available for treatment
- Trichomoniasis – caused by a parasite; often people have no symptoms; men usually do not have symptoms; treated with antibiotics
- Chlamydia – caused by bacteria; usually doesn’t cause symptoms; can cause infertility in women; treated with antibiotics
- HPV – Human Papillomaviruses – caused by common viruses; they result in genital warts; more than 100 types of HPV and about 30 put the individual at risk of cancer
If you think you may have an STD then you should see your doctor or health provider immediately – for your health and your partner’s health.
What does Low Testosterone mean in Men?
As men become older their testosterone levels decline naturally. What is not clear is the definition of “low testosterone.” Since researchers have to measure this hormone and compare it over time, they have to work with a definition. Most have chosen a level of 250 or 300 nanograms per deciliter or lower as the definition of low testosterone. It should be noted that many men that are considered healthy and without symptoms will have low testosterone levels when tested.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Those men who do have low testosterone levels may experience a number of symptoms. These symptoms range from those that are easily recognized to symptoms that are more difficult to analyze over time. Men with VERY low levels of testosterone can experience hot flashes. The most common symptoms are below.
- Lower Libido
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decrease in Bone Density
- Decrease in Muscle Mass
- Decrease in Strength
Is it Really Low Testosterone?
If a patient is experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned above then he should see a doctor to correctly diagnose his condition. Sometimes me will have some or all of the symptoms of low testosterone but the condition is caused by something unrelated to testosterone. For example, it could be a thyroid problem. Doctors will also want to rule out other possible causes such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, testicular cancer or depression. And obviously a specific blood test to determine the patient’s testosterone level should be ordered.
Doctors have a variety of treatment methods such as injections, implantable pellets or gel patches. There are some risks associated with testosterone treatment so the patient should be monitored by his doctor on a regular basis.
Erectile dysfunction (impotence) occurs when a man can no longer get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Penile erection is a complex process involving hormones, nerves, muscles, blood vessels and your brain. A problem with any of these organ systems can cause erectile problems. Physical causes of erectile dysfunction most often erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical.
By far the most common physical cause of ED is atherosclerosis or blood vessel blockage which is in turn is caused by:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- Heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Low testosterone
- Peyronie’s disease, development of scar tissue inside the penis
- Medications including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate cancer
- Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse
- Radiation, Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
- Prolonged bicycling, which may compress nerves and affect blood flow to the penis, can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
- Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns
As you get older, erections may be more difficult to develop. This isn’t necessarily a consequence of getting older instead a result of underlying health issues or taking medications, which is more common as men age.
Drugs – These three drugs listed below enhance the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes the blood vessels in the penis. This increases blood flow and allows you to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation. Possible side effects include flushing, nasal congestion, headache, visual changes and stomach upset.
- Sildenafil (Viagra)
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
- Vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
Testosterone replacement – Some men have erectile dysfunction caused by low levels of the hormone testosterone, and may need testosterone replacement therapy.
Penile implants – This treatment involves surgically placing semi-rigid rods into the penis. The inflatable devices allow you to control when and how long you have an erection. This treatment is usually not recommended until other methods have been tried first.
Penis pumps – A penis pump (vacuum erection device) is a hollow tube with a hand-powered or battery-powered pump. The tube is slides over the penis, and the pump is used to suction out the air inside the tube. This creates a vacuum that pulls blood into your penis. Once you get an erection, you slip a tension ring around the base of your penis to hold in the blood and keep it firm. You then remove the vacuum device. The erection typically lasts long enough for a couple to have sex. You remove the tension ring after intercourse.
Stress, anxiety or depression are common causes of ED which may require a visit to a psychologist or counselor. Even if it is caused by something physical, erectile dysfunction can create stress and relationship tension.