Q: Is there more to men’s sexual health than the little blue pill?
A: Yes. I tell all of my patients the best way to maintain normal sexual
health is to stay in shape. Eat right. Exercise and maintain normal body weight.
If you’re still having trouble, medications such as Viagra, Levitra
or Cialis can increase sexual function temporarily by inhibiting an enzyme
called PDE5. However, you can’t use these medications if you’re
taking a nitrate medication for heart disease. If you do, they can cause
a significant drop in blood pressure, and you can pass out.
Another treatment to improve sexual function is testosterone. Low testosterone
or “low T” is common in aging men. Symptoms include lack of
sex drive, lack of energy, a decrease in strength or endurance and mood swings.
A primary care physician can diagnose low T using a blood test that measures
free testosterone and bioavailable testosterone in your blood stream.
Treatments include testosterone injections every two weeks, a patch or
a transdermal gel. Your doctor will monitor your health starting after
two weeks, then at 3 months and again at 6 months to ensure there have
been no negative side effects such as prostate growth.
Many men taking testosterone treatment report they feel better overall,
with more energy and a healthier sense of well-being. Of course, testosterone
isn’t right for everyone. Men who have prostate cancer or an elevated
PSA level or men who can’t start a urine stream easily due to an
enlarged prostate can find testosterone worsens their disease.
Keith Chumley, M.D. is a Primary Care Physician and member of the Torrance
Memorial Physicians Network. He can be reached at 310-378-2234. Dr. Chumley
accepts Torrance Memorial IPA patients.