The Disappearing Penis: Why Men Need To 'Take Charge' Of Their Member

Men, unless you want to take Viagra for the rest of your life, it's time to take charge.

He’s been married for five years and he and his wife have been trying to conceive a baby for about three years, with no success. He told me he always had a low libido but with the added pressure, he is now also suffering from often losing his erection. His wife is very disappointed and unhappy because with hardly any sex there is even less chance of falling pregnant.

While taking his sexual history, I found out that he has been very overweight since he was a teenager.

With obesity rates on the rise, the effects of being overweight have attracted increasing attention, but one aspect of this problem is too often overlooked - the impact on male sexual dysfunction.
"In men, obesity is directly linked to infertility because of the way it affects sperm." (Image: Getty Images)

Being overweight can directly affect erectile dysfunction by lowering testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it plays an important role in both libido and sexual function. Indirectly, obesity contributes to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, which all contribute to erectile dysfunction by damaging and constricting blood vessels and affecting the way blood flows in and out of the penis. The penis needs a sufficient supply of blood to become erect and once engorged; the vessels need to close to maintain the erection.

In men, obesity is directly linked to infertility because of the way it affects sperm. Dr Sebastien Czernichow and his colleagues in Paris, reported online in 2016 their research Obesity and increased risk for oligozoospermia and azoospermia. They gathered data from 14 previous studies of nearly 10,000 men.

The researchers found that among the overweight men, 25.6 per cent had a low sperm count and 2.6 per cent had no viable sperm.

The answer for my client may be that he should make an effort to lose some of his weight, change his eating habits and live a healthier lifestyle. Exercising regularly not only helps to shed kilos, it also increases endorphin levels, which can do wonders to improve self-image and increase energy for sex.

In 2012 a survey of 1,000 British men has shown that a third of men aged between 35 and 60 years, are unable to see their genitals due to a protruding midriff or, less politely, a beer belly. If a man takes off his clothes, stands upright and looks down at his penis and can’t see it, he is definitely obese. Being overweight means that men are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and other health problems.

"A survey of 1,000 British men has shown that a third of men aged between 35 and 60 years, are unable to see their genitals due to a protruding midriff." (Image: Getty Images)

I believe there hasn’t been a similar survey in Australia yet, but you only need to look around to realise how many men are overweight and have a large belly. But, what the research does not spell out is that obesity has also been linked to erectile problems and difficulties with sexual performance. From a psychological point of view overweight men often feel uncomfortable with their body and have a lower self-esteem. They may suffer from anxiety, depression or emotional distress and therefore acquire performance anxiety. Unfortunately, it's not something they want to talk about, either to their GPs or a counsellor.

The social and psychological obstacles these men face are not the only factors causing sexual problems. There is also a direct biological origin. To have an erection is the result of increased blood flow in the penis and to maintain penile erection depends on a healthy circulatory system.

Let’s face it, we live in a society that puts great value on physical appearance and it’s not easy for men struggling with obesity. Men who are overweight often report that sex with a partner sometimes is just too much of a chore; they run out of steam before they are able to complete the act. They often feel self-conscious about the way they look and are reluctant to have sex. Also fat in the abdominal area can make the penis look smaller than it really is, which doesn’t help self-esteem.

"Overweight men should view the prospect of impotence as a compelling motivation to lead a different lifestyle; one that involves regular exercise and a healthy diet." (Image: Getty Images)

With the growing percentage of Australian men becoming obese, it may be time for doctors to explain to their patients how important it is to lose weight and therefore avoid having problems in the bedroom. Knowing about the negative consequences of an unhealthy life to one’s sexual functioning may help men quit smoking, consume less alcohol, exercise more and lose weight!

For a man to have good sexual health, he has to be ‘physically and psychologically in charge of his penis’.

Sometimes it seems that men care more about maintaining their cars than their own bodies. Overweight men should view the prospect of impotence as a compelling motivation to lead a different lifestyle; one that involves regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is for their own sakes and that of their partners.

Having to take Viagra for the rest of your life is not something to look forward to.