В  Viagra – its not just for improving your sex lifeВ byВ Only Health Secrets

If your partner plucks up the courage to ask his GP for Viagra, he’s not just improving your sex life – it could reveal underlying health problems.

It is 10 years since Viagra became widely available. Although controversial at the time, the little blue pill has transformed the sex lives of millions. But the drug has another, largely unsung, benefit, namely to de-stigmatize an embarrassing symptom that we now recognize may indicate far more serious underlying health issues.

When your husband or boyfriend plucks up the courage to ask his doctor for Viagra, it won’t just improve his life, it could save it.

Back in 1998 Viagra was the first oral treatment for men who were finding it difficult to get or maintain an erection. It was infinitely more user-friendly than previous techniques (vacuum pumps and injections) and most men were more than happy with the result.

But as more came forward to ask for help, it became clear that the impact of erectile dysfunction (ED) went beyond that of sexual performance.

While ED has many causes – from stress and depression to a side effect of common medicines – damage to the delicate lining of blood vessels supplying the penis is the most common. As such, ED may be the first and only sign of underlying diseases such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels and diabetes, which, if undiagnosed and left untreated, will accelerate the furring up of arteries elsewhere in the body, leading to heart attack and stroke.

The arteries supplying the penis are just 1 -2mm in diameter, meaning that they are more susceptible to furring up, and thus reducing blood flow, than the larger (3-4mm) coronary arteries supplying the muscular heart wall. So it is not surprising that erection difficulties tend to present earlier than chest pain and heart attack.

Research suggests that most men with ED also have premature ageing of their coronary arteries, or a condition that predisposes to it. Half of all men with diabetes, for instance, and one in four of those receiving treatment for high blood pressure, also have some degree of ED.

The importance of recognizing that it is a marker for such diseases is compounded by the fact that there may be no other obvious symptoms, explaining why they are so often missed. There is thought to be as many as half a million men in the UK with undiagnosed diabetes, and probably at least five times that many with undiagnosed high blood pressure or worryingly high cholesterol levels.

By identifying other potential health issues – especially concerning your heart and blocked arteries, you could have chance to correct the problem using treatments involving some form of chelation before things get bad and in need of surgery.

And you don’t have to be middle-aged or elderly to have a problem. Although ED becomes more common as you get older, it is not that unusual in younger men. It is estimated that up to four million men in the UK suffer with some degree of ED and that as many as one in 15 of them start experiencing difficulties in their 30s and 40s. The earlier symptoms develop, the more important it is to exclude an underlying illness that could accelerate arterial damage.

The strength of this link is yet another reason why men should avoid buying Viagra over the internet. Not only are they likely to end up with a counterfeit product that doesn’t work, and risk their health by taking a drug that may not be suitable for them, but they are also missing out on important screening tests that should now be routinely offered by doctors.

Unfortunately, while men today are far more likely to admit to having ED than they were in the pre-Viagra days, most still don’t seek help.

Perhaps if there was better awareness of the significance of ED as a marker symptom of underlying diseases, more would come forward.

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