If Sexual Dysfunction Were a Virus, "It'd Be Pandemic": Expert

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Half of the U.S. population aged 40 and older suffer with a sexual dysfunction. And experts say these patients often suffer in silence, even though their problems likely are treatable. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News. (Published Thursday, May 16, 2013)

    After more than 30 years of marriage, Ernie and Cynthia Dillard thought their sex life was over.

    “I never thought that ED (erectile dysfunction) was something I would have to deal with,” Ernie Dillard said. “I felt like I was not meeting my responsibilities as a husband, as a man. Something’s wrong, you’re getting too old; you can’t have sex anymore. All the negative things popped up.”

    Cynthia Dillard thought it was her fault.

    “My first reaction was, ‘It’s me. I guess I’m not sexy enough anymore,’ and he kept saying no, but he didn’t want to talk about it either,” Cynthia Dillard said.

    Their experience is common, according to sexual health expert Dr. Lawrence Paletz of Western Institute for Sexual Health.

    “Fifty percent of all males and females in our population, over the age of 40, have some sort of sexual dysfunction,” Paletz said, “It’s very common. In fact, if this was a virus, it would be pandemic.”

    The problem is when couples don’t communicate about it. And at first, Ernie and Cynthia didn’t.

    “It’s not talked about,” Ernie Dillard said. “You see all the ads for the pills. Nobody talks about what is going on, how to deal with it. ‘Cause it’s deep. I was getting worn out just thinking about it.”

    Paletz said sexual dysfunction is not just a male problem.

    “About one-third of males don’t talk to their doctors about it. Worse than that is less than ten percent of females speak to their physicians about it,” he said.

    Eventually the Dillards sought out medical help, together.

    “I said that’s not going to work with us, we’ve been together too long, been through too much,” Cynthia Dillard said.

    “This is a couple’s problem, and we really want that patient to bring their spouse or their sexual partner in with them,” Paletz said. “Once we treat them early, the problem a lot of times is curable.”

    The problems can vary from cardiovascular problems, to hormone levels, or other factors.

    Paletz conducted various tests and found out that Ernie had a very specific problem called venous leak.

    “The blood goes in, but the blood doesn’t get trapped and goes right out the vein. So you can throw all the Viagra at him, it’s not going to work,” Paletz said.

    With a better understanding of what was happening in his body, Ernie Dillard said the “lights began to come on.”

    And Cynthia Dillard said she, too, was enlightened.

    “With the consultation, the education, the information, learning brought it more in focus as to the best option for us,” Cynthia Dillard said.

    After trying different methods, Ernie treated his condition with an implant, and both are very happy with the results.

    “And it’s been paradise ever since,” Ernie Dillard said.

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