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The Legacy Series: Erectile Dysfunction In African American Men: Are Black Males Really More At Risk? 

The Legacy Series contains the most read articles in the history of this website.  This is the #5 most read article in the history of Black Men In

Contribution by Sally Writes

Around 18 million American men deal with erectile dysfunction. Commonly defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection, recent studies have shown that African American men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction in their life when compared to other races. While the healthcare arena for black men has improved, the issue of sexual health remains a topic of mystery and apprehension when it comes to talking about erectile dysfunction – particularly what’s causing it. Unfortunately, it’s not until we can understand the factors behind higher rates of erectile dysfunction in the African American male community that can we begin to find a solution.

Why African Americans Are More Prone To ED
The higher incidence rate of erectile dysfunction amongst African American males stems from both inherent factors and lifestyle choices. Some of the most commonly reported causes for erectile dysfunctions are heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. According to The Center for Disease Control, the frequency of high blood pressure amongst the African American community is the highest globally. Approximately 40 percent of African American men have high blood pressure. The condition has also been noted to develop earlier on in life, influencing earlier cases of erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction has also been linked to heart disease. According to Harvard Medical School, erectile dysfunction can be a warning sign of heart disease or other circulatory issues. Interestingly, it turns out that 44 percent of African American men have a form of heart disease, thereby increasing the odds of them experiencing related conditions like erectile dysfunction. Amongst the most commonly cited conditions are diabetes and obesity. African American men also carry higher obesity levels, putting them at a higher risk of developing both cardiovascular and sexual health conditions like erectile dysfunction.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Treat ED On My Own?
There have been many published articles recommending ways men can safely address erectile dysfunction at home. Before you do attempt any of these remedies, it’s best to understand the underlying cause. Still, there are a few general guidelines you can add into your daily life that have been shown to improve both your physical and sexual health, including maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise. This is because the same lifestyle habits that impact your cardiovascular health can also influence your chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction.

Instead of reaching for processed foods or red meat, choose a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruit and vegetables. According to a Massachusetts Male Aging Study, men who adopted such a diet were less likely to record ED symptoms. Another study found in the International Journal of Impotence Research also showed that including pistachios in your diet can not only improve cholesterol levels, but also produce positive effects for patients with erectile dysfunction. It can also help to share your wellbeing concerns with your partner, especially since erectile dysfunction can also be psychological. Many men find it difficult to speak to their partners because of fear of judgment or denial. However, millions of men deal with the same problem, and opening up to your partner can give you the support you need. In the bedroom, you and your partner can also try relaxation or sexual therapy to help you overcome this issue.

Don’t forget to get some exercise regularly. Just walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce your chances of getting erectile dysfunction by 41 percent. Remaining active is also an essential habit of maintaining a healthy weight or addressing obesity. Men with a 42-inch waist circumference are 50 percent more likely to have erectile dysfunction. In short, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle habits can be a great start for men worried about erectile dysfunction, and in some cases, can even negate the need for medication.

Knowing When To Seek Medical Advice
In some cases, medication may be needed. Therefore, it is important to know when to seek medical advice from your doctor and when medication may be helpful. While men’s first instinct is to not discuss it, speaking to your doctor can give you a lot of clarity on your way forward. It also can help you pinpoint whether your erectile dysfunction is psychological or medically related. If you find that the condition has been prolonged for three months or longer, you find yourself experiencing pain, or erectile dysfunction is impacting your mental health, it may be time to speak to your doctor. 

Before heading in to have the conversation, keep a diary of your symptoms, including those that may seem unrelated – like decreased appetite or insomnia. It helps your doctor get a full view of your medical history. Based on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe drugs such as Viagra or Levitra. If that proves unsuccessful, there are also other erectile dysfunction treatments like vacuum constriction devices.

Whether the causes are physical or psychological, it is important that men with erectile dysfunction know that there is help available and that the road to recovery begins with acknowledging the issue. 

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