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MEN’S SEXUAL HEALTH: MALE REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS AND CONDITIONS

Male reproductive organs are prone to several relatively common conditions, some of which are potentially life-threatening.

Unfortunately, many (if not all) of these are rarely talked about with many men opting to suffer in silence.

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Here we’ve compiled a list of conditions that often affect male reproductive organs.

HYDROCELE

A hydrocele is a collection of fluid around the testicle, beneath its outer covering. In grown males, this occurs because the outer covering produces more fluid than it absorbs. Sometimes, it is a response to infection or injury to the testicle.

Hydroceles can also occur in newborn boys. As the child develops in the womb, the testicles develop in the abdomen. The testis descends down through the groin into the scrotum… a hydrocele occurs when the passage from the abdomen to the scrotum does not fully close, allowing fluid from the abdomen to collect in the scrotum.

PEYRONIE’SDISEASE

This causes scar tissue, or a hard lump, to form inside the penis. While the specific cause is not always known, medical professionals say trauma to the penis-hitting or bending- may be involved.

Mild cases of Peyronie’s disease can improve within 6 to 15 months without treatment. In most cases, the hardened scar tissue can be painful, cause the penis to be less flexible and force the shaft to bend or arc during erection.

In more severe cases, men encounter emotional distress (in addition to the physical pain) which causes impotence and can make sexual intercourse difficult or even impossible.

Peyronie’s Disease is most common in middle-aged men but can also affect young and elderly men.

“Some men with the disease develop scar tissue and hardened cells in other elastic tissues of the body, such as the hand or the foot.”

PHIMOSISFORESKIN PROBLEMS

Boys are born with the foreskin on their penis tight, but over time, it gradually loosens until it can easily be pulled back over the penis head or glans.

The phimosis occurs when the foreskin remains unusually tight and can’t be drawn back. Some men who are plagued with phimosis all their lives are able to have intercourse.

Not being able to pull back the foreskin also means that it is difficult to properly clean the penis. This increases the chance of infection. Phimosis may also develop later in life, after puberty. It can be caused by thrush infections, which lead to scarring of the penis, or another condition (balanitis xerotica obliterans) that makes the foreskin stick to the penis.

CANCER OF THE PENIS

With penile cancer, tumours usually appear on the end of the penis or on the foreskin. In North America, where circumcision is routinely performed, penile cancer is rare. Bacterial production of smegma (a cheese-like substance that can form under the foreskin of the penis) may be a risk factor. Unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners and cigarette smoking are also risk factors.

As with all cancers, penile tumours occur when cells abnormally divide and grow forming a lump. Tumours can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body, although they can press on surrounding organs, affecting their function. Malignant tumours are able to spread beyond their original site. Sometimes cells break off and travel in the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other organs in the body, growing new tumours there.

MALE INFERTILITY

Infertility is the inability to produce children after at least one year of unprotected intercourse. About one in seven couples have difficulty getting pregnant, and male infertility is the cause in at least 25% of cases.

The main reason for male infertility is not producing enough healthy sperm.

“On average, about 50-500 million sperm are ejaculated during orgasm. However, only a few hundred make it as far as the egg. Therefore, if the number of sperm is too little, or if they are defective, the chances of a healthy sperm fertilising the egg are much slimmer.”

PRIAPISM

This is the medical term for a persistent erection that lasts at least four hours. Usually painful, priapism is not always related to sexual stimulation or activity. If left untreated, it can cause lasting damage.

During a normal erection, blood flows into the penis and is kept there because the veins become compressed by the swollen muscles.

After ejaculation, hormones make the arteries get narrower, which releases the pressure on the veins, so that the blood can drain out again. With priapism, this doesn’t always happen.

TESTICULAR CANCER

Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles.

This is the most common cancer in young men, affecting one in 199 men overall. As with any cancer, the cause is unknown, though it is more common in white men aged between 15 – 49 years of age. Almost half of those who get it are under 35.

The number of cases of testicular cancer that are diagnosed each year in the UK has roughly doubled since the mid-1970s. The reasons for this are unclear.

TESTICULAR TORSION

Testicular torsion occurs due to the rotating and twisting of the testicle. This causes swelling and eventually cuts off the blood supply to the testicle. In the UK, 1 in 4000 men under the age of 25 experience testicular torsion every year.

Testicular torsion is an emergency condition and can threaten the life of the organ. It is important that all men are aware of the symptoms of testicular torsion as the earlier it is diagnosed, the more likely it is the testicle can be saved.

ERECTILE  DYSFUNCTION

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity. It is sometimes known as ‘impotence’.

It’s a very common problem, particularly affecting men past the age of 40, and around 1 in 10 men overall.

Erectile dysfunction can be triggered by psychological issues such as depression, stress or relationship difficulties. However, in about 75% of cases of ED, the cause is physical. Most men with ED have a combination of physical and psychological causes.

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