Sexual Fitness for Men: The Hardness Factor

WebMD Live Events Transcript

"The harder the erection, the healthier the man." Is the penis a barometer of a man's health? Steven Lamm, MD, says that great sex can only come with great health and that once men understand the connection between health and virility, they will take better care of themselves. For men who want to achieve peak sexual health -- and the partners who love them -- Lamm shared his advice for health and hardness on July 13, 2005.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD live, Dr. Lamm. Thank you for joining us today.

LAMM:
Thanks for the opportunity.

MODERATOR:
Doctor, the link between overall health and a man's sexual health seems obvious but it's so often overlooked by men. Why?

LAMM:
I think that most men have actually not connected those dots. They actually have the misconception or misperception that somehow they can abuse their body but somehow the one organ that they value the most, their genitals, will somehow not be affected by the abuse. I think in general men abuse their bodies and they are not very proactive.

We are trying to capture a gender, trying to capture the male species because from all the recent data and all the recent research, it appears as though we are an endangered species. We are dying of diseases that we need not be dying from, such as diabetes, excessive obesity and the metabolic syndrome as it's called, hypertension, sleep apnea syndrome, depression and suicide. We know about the longevity of males vs. females and we know that men are dying at a younger age for a variety of reasons. There is one thing for certain -- men are not proactive.

The whole reason and purpose of writing the book was, and is primarily, to make it very clear to men that there is a very, very important relationship between their overall health, their overall lifestyle, and their sexual performance. I think it's ultimately going to be the best and strongest hook we can possibly have to change a man's perspective about his health.

I think that the data with reference to the overall health issue and sexual performance has not really been known for as long as you might think. It actually started with the introduction of the revolution in male sexuality with the introduction of Viagra, when the data started becoming clear that the majority of men who suffer erectile problems actually have a biologic basis for it. Prior to the introduction of Viagra and then Levitra and Cialis, the pervasive thought was that 80% of erectile problems or issues were psychological and only 20% were organic or structural or vascular. That has completely been flipped around to the fact that we really do appreciate that it's the comorbidity -- the diabetes, smoking, obesity -- that is actually the basis for the changes in erection function.

That's another point that I'm trying to make in our book, which is that we have to move away a little bit from the idea of erectile dysfunction just as we moved away from the term impotency because it's not politically correct and it implies things about the person that we don't need to imply. We're raising the new issue of erection quality, called EQ. That's an easier concept for the average young man and the average woman to understand.

Erections change over time, they change with every decade of a man's life, as every other organ changes. That organ has to age and be affected by illness and vascular disease and stress as any other organ. So we're actually trying to educate the public in understanding that erection quality changes and the knowledge and awareness of what these changes are can be very helpful for a man and certainly very helpful for a woman.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How do you measure the quality of an erection?

LAMM:
That's an extremely good question! In the past, we basically had a questionnaire. This is a questionnaire that is standardized and it's a whole host of questions. There's a long form and a short form to the questionnaire. Men would basically be put in a room and we ask them: How confident are you in your erection? How confident are you that you can complete a sexual encounter? It contained a whole host of different questions -- questions about their libido and about their interest in sex, and that was basically it. There were no objective or very few objective ways of measuring the erection.