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Erectile Dysfunction Health Center

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Happy, Healthy, and Hard

Experts explain the connection between a man's overall health and his sexual health.

Toward the Ideal Erection continued...

Lamm says he's now studying ED using an even newer device that measures the function of the endothelium, instead of the hardness of an erect penis.

"When we wrote the book, we had no way of looking at endothelial function," Lamm says.

This new technology uses a blood pressure cuff and two sensors placed on a man's index finger. The sensors, hooked up to a computer, measure blood flow returning to the fingers after the inflated cuff squeezes off the blood supply for about five minutes. Based on data from the sensors, the computer generates a score of endothelial function.   

Lamm says he has been able to perform about 1,000 of these tests a year on patients, and he's hoping that the data will help him find an optimal range related to hardness and heart disease risk.  


Harder Questions

Lamm says he thinks men want harder erections, even if they're not worried about ED or heart disease.

A rigidometer could show a man objectively how hard his penis is -- hard enough for penetration, maybe, but not as hard as it could be. An endothelial function test could tell him about how close or far away he is from heart disease. Either number could be an incentive for him to improve his sexual or cardiovascular health.

Sharlip says he's not sure if the idea of preserving or enhancing erectile function could motivate men to make healthier lifestyle choices. "I don't know of any studies that show whether it's a factor," he says.

Based on his professional experience, Sharlip says, "I think it matters to some men." But he also says he thinks that many young men feel invincible, and wouldn't be swayed to change their habits.

Lamm says he has not studied whether information about erectile function really motivates men to change. But he says he sees anecdotal evidence in his day-to-day practice as a doctor.

Men may care about hardness, but they don't know where they stand in relation to what's normal or ideal, he says.

That's because men typically don't talk about the quality of their erections with other men. "You don't want to hear another guy telling you how hard it is," Lamm says. But he adds, "They like to talk to me about it. They come with their wives. It happens every day."

Reviewed on February 02, 2010

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