The number of searches for the condition has increased by 25% since 2020.
1 in 17 men in Glasgow suffered from erectile dysfunction this year, according to a new study of Google data by pharmacy brand "Medicine Direct". There has been a reported 25% increase in erectile dysfunction related Google searches since 2020 and the analysis of 93M Google searches shows one in 25 men have searched for erectile dysfunction support. According to the NHS, there are physical and psychological causes of erectile dysfunction with potential treatments varying depending on the cause.
Hussain Abdeh, a superintendent pharmacist at Medicine Direct, who led the study claims: "Anxiety is one of the biggest causes of erectile dysfunction in the UK." However, Abdeh says that anxiety and erectile dysfunction are unfortunately two issues that individuals are unlikely to talk about openly.
Increased anxiety leads to the release of the hormones that make it difficult for individuals to get an erection. Dr Jeff Foster, a private GP in Warwickshire explains how anxiety can lead to erectile dysfunction: "When we are anxious or stressed, we release the ‘fight or flight’ hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol and adrenaline can suppress production of the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone so you will find it more difficult to get and sustain an erection, or even want to have sex."
According to the Medicine Direct study, during lockdown periods, there has been a 10% increase in Google searches related to erectile dysfunction, suggesting there may be a correlation between lockdown anxieties and sexual health. During the pandemic many have experienced mental health issues which can lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction.
It is estimated that one in eight men in the UK suffer with mental health problems. The uncertainty and emotional turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. The Centre for Mental Health has predicted that an additional 10M people will need mental health support in the coming months.
An outcome of the study conducted by Medicine Direct is to encourage individuals to speak more openly about their mental health in general. Medicine Direct stresses the importance of openly discussing erectile dysfunction, as it can be a potential manifestation of an underlying mental health problem.
Like the psychological causes, the physical causes of erectile dysfunction could be the sign of an underlying health concern. The NHS states the importance of a visit to the GP if an individual is suffering for more than a few weeks because "the condition can be the first sign of more serious health conditions, such as heart disease. "There have been links shown between other systemic conditions and erectile dysfunction, namely atherosclerosis. An individual suffering from atherosclerosis is likely to experience symptoms such as erectile dysfunction before progressing to coronary heart disease. According to the NHS, "Glasgow has one of the highest levels of coronary heart disease in the western world". Other studies have found that keeping a healthy diet may be protective against erectile dysfunction. Research highlights the importance of openly talking about erectile dysfunction because it could be the tip of the iceberg for a more malicious health concern, be it psychological or physical.
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