Erectile Dysfunction

Before doing this activity, I defined health as being in good physical shape, being emotionally stable (or taking medication necessary to maintain stability), and having a realistic and reasonable outlook or expectation for various life situations. I defined illness as simply not being healthy; having a cold or broken leg, or a disease like cancer. To determine these definitions I considered one’s physical condition and their mental and emotional conditions. However, I did not include a person’s personal experience or how they decide whether they are healthy or not.

Society played a large part in how I decided if I was healthy, along with influences from family, school, and the sports I played. In society, a person was not healthy if they had allergies or the flu and it is often stressed that children get vaccinations to protect them from disease. This was also true with broken bones or being physically out of shape. My family and the sports I played placed emphasis on physical exercise to remain healthy and if I had a broken leg I would have to see a doctor and I would not be able to be physically active for some time.

When examining health, it is also important to understand sickness. Sickness can be broken down into a disease or illness. We defined disease as a clinical phenomenon that is diagnosed by a doctor and illness as unwanted variations in the physical, social, and psychological dimensions of health that consider the individual experience of the person with a particular condition. Defining these terms can sometimes make it difficult to determine whether something was an illness or a disease. One of the conditions from the list I chose to examine was erectile dysfunction. It was difficult to decide whether this one was a disease or illness because the symptoms experienced by men with erectile dysfunction are all the same; they have trouble keeping an erection and/or reduced sexual desire. The shared symptoms among those with erectile dysfunction lead me to believe that it is a disease; however, the reason why the individuals cannot hold an erection could be very different and some men may not think to see a doctor. It could be implicit of another health problem (diabetes, etc.) or a psychological issue. Since this element depends on the individual’s personal experience, it would seem that erectile dysfunction is also an illness.

Another condition I decided to examine was anxiety. I decided that it was an illness because even though it can be clinically diagnosed, people experience anxiety differently and some do not think to seek treatment for anxiety. For example, one person may become very anxious speaking in front of a crowd while another person may be comfortable with public speaking but will show the same symptoms of anxiety while being alone. Or, a person may be feeling very anxious in certain situations and think that they are just worrying too much seeing no need to visit a doctor. In these cases, the symptoms of anxiety that they share would be similar but the cause would depend on the individual and whether or not they seek treatment.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Megan Bergeron says:

    I would also describe erectile dysfunction as an illness. I say this because erectile dysfunction is not something that normally occurs in men. When a man has erectile dysfunction something is amiss. While researching erectile dysfunction I found an interesting article that described a variety of different cures for ED that have been used throughout history. In ancient Rome and Greece parts of animals that were associated with potency (genitalia of goats and roosters) were eaten as a cure for erectile dysfunction. A Roman man might also wear an amulet to protect against ED. In the thirteenth century, a variety of exotic remedies were used. They include: roasting a wolf’s penis and chewing on a small portion of it, or consuming sparrow meat. At this time, the starfish was considered to be a violent aphrodisiac and could lead to the ejaculating of blood (yikes!!). In the nineteenth century, a man by the name of Frederick Hollick believed that cannabis was one substance that could cure ED. In the 1970s surgeons began inserting silicon rods in the penis of impotent men. Finally, in 1988 Viagra was approved by the FDA. I say finally because it seems to be the least disgusting/painful cure.

    Angus McLaren, Impotenence: A Cultural History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

  2. Riasia Franklin says:

    I think Erectile dysfunction would also be classified as an illness and not really a disease. I believe it is an illness because it can be treated and is not a very serious condition. Erectile dysfunction misty happens to younger men but can happen to any man that’s any age. Erectile dysfunction can be easily treated and if one treatment doesn’t work then there is always another alternative. Different cultures and countries have different ways of treating illnesses. I chose to research how cultures in South Africa treat erectile dysfunction. The treatments available in South Africa are Psychological and Relationship counseling, Oral medication (Tablets), Vacuum Pump Devices, Injections into the penis, and Surgery. The main cause of erectile dysfunction would be having a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Along with the treatments working there are some side effects that could occur while taking the drugs such as Facial Flushing, Headache, Dyspepsia (indigestion), Dizziness, Nasal Congestion (blocked nose), and Abnormal vision (a blue haze)This illness is perceived as something that could turn into something more serious if left untreated. The illness also could effect many families who are trying to conceive. Sometimes, just changing your lifestyle could lower the chances of Erectile dysfunction happening.

    South African Sexual Health Association, “Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction.” Home. (accessed July 6, 2014).

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