Men & mojo: Myths, misuse of erectile dysfunction drugs

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- As a doctor specializing in internal medicine and hormonal health, a lot of male patients come to see me because they’ve "lost their mojo." In guy-speak, they mean they’re having trouble getting or maintaining an erection. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical ads have many believing the answer is as simple as popping a pill, but it’s far more important to treat the cause, not just the symptom.

The source of men’s plumbing problems may stem from heart disease, diabetes, low testosterone, anxiety or other health issues.

Viagra, Cialis and other erectile dysfunction drugs are simply vasodilators, which enhance blood flow to the penis, allowing for erections to occur. Problems with blood flow usually results from years of smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and other things that damage arteries and veins.

As we age, testosterone levels decline, affecting mental clarity, glucose metabolism, fat burning, moods, libido, and for men, the ability to get an erection. Since testosterone primes the body’s pump, it’s smart to begin there. If levels are low, testosterone replacement usually does the trick. But if it doesn’t, there may be an issue with blood flow, and that’s when using an erectile dysfunction drug would be indicated.

In very severe cases, testosterone coupled with a drug like Viagra won’t do it, and direct penile injections, urethral gels or pumps may be helpful.

Bottom line: If your groove is gone, it’s important to understand that Viagra is not the answer to all that ails you. See a doctor that specializes in hormonal health first.

Dr. Angela DeRosa is a nationally recognized expert in the field of Internal Medicine and Women's Health. DeRosa Medical has locations in Scottsdale, Sedona and Chandler. For more information, call 480-619-4097 or visit