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Erectile dysfunction is by no means a recent development in medical history, nor is it one thatâ€™s been kept quiet or away from public discussion. Means of stimulating sexual desire in men hark back to Ancient Greece and Rome: with Pliny the Elderâ€™s Natural History advocating various root vegetables and plants as potent aphrodisiacs.
These days, research indicates that 5% of men are likely to experience forms of erectile dysfunction by the age of 40. Of course, thatâ€™s merely an estimate â€“ not all men who experience problems attempt to seek treatment, making both exact figures and potential cures difficult to study fully. Even so, age is only one factor affecting erectile dysfunction â€“ it can also be a symptom of medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension, or a side effect of certain medications (or smoking).
The Unusual Thing about Male Penises
In comparison to other mammals, male humans have larger genitalia relative to body size. This can be traced to the evolution of the upright stance â€“ one that led, over time, to the unconcealed display of the penis. Furthermore, the male genitalia contain no means of attachment, nor any bones that might restrict movement. While this makes face-to-face intercourse possible between male and female humans, as well as the process thereof more pleasurable, it is also the root of the development of erectile dysfunction in male humans.
Dr. John R. Brinkley
Skipping over many years of archaic recipes to stimulate male organs, it was during the 1920s and 30s in the United States that John R. Brinkley attempted to cure erectile dysfunction through the use of medication. Unfortunately, his methods included costly goat gland implants and mercurochrome injections, which resulted in his medical license being revoked. He reportedly fled to Mexico, where he continued to advertise his techniques.
Implants and Pumps
After the infamous Dr. Brinkley, it wasnâ€™t until the 1960s and 70s that further developments in curing erectile dysfunction were put into practice. The 1960s saw the vacuum pump implemented by Geddins D. Osbon â€“ although his invention was known then â€˜youth equivalent deviceâ€™ â€“ a surgical device designed to create an erection through vacuum, supposedly personally used by Osbon for more than 20 years while he popularised and perfected his creation.
The device was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1982, but faced strong scepticism in the medical community. It wasnâ€™t until later on that the vacuum pump became an acceptable alternative recommended by doctors (except to patients with coagulation disorders and sickle-cell disease). In the 70s, surgeons started providing patients with inflatable penile implants.
It wasnâ€™t until 1983 that Giles Brindley introduced the effectiveness of phentolamine on inducing an erection. Injecting non-specific vasodilator (as alpha-blocking agent) into his own veins caused corporal smooth muscle relaxation. This proved to be a vital discovery, paving the way for development of oral treatments that would operate on similar grounds.
The Discovery of Viagra
Of course, there was one main discovery that truly revolutionised the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil, or Viagra, was and still is one of the most effective treatments of erectile dysfunction, though it was originally marketed as a medication for heart disease. For a while, Viagra was the only product of its kind available, but in 2003 both Levitra and Cialis were marketed as other types of medication for Viagra â€“ similar to Viagra in some ways but overall very different types of drugs.
Know any weird old remedies intended to cure erectile dysfunction? Share them in the comments!
Gavin Harvey is a travel and health enthusiast, and enjoys blogging about his interests in both areas.