Veterans returning from military service face a number of challenges as they transition to civilian life. One of the challenges that are rarely talked about is sexual dysfunction.
“Veterans who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, can experience changes in their sexual function,” explains Dr. James J. Elist, a urologist with over 40 years of experience helping men with issues related to sexual health. “Symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are common in PTSD, can decrease libido and negatively impact sexual performance. Additionally, other symptoms associated with PTSD, such as hyperarousal, hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance of traumatic events, can also negatively affect sexual experiences.”
Dr. Elist is the inventor of the Penuma® penile enlargement implant for men. Invented in 2004, Penuma® is the world’s first FDA-cleared penile enlargement implant. During the past two decades, Dr. Elist has performed thousands of Penuma® implant surgeries, providing men with an increase in penis girth of one to two inches on average.
“I developed the implant because I saw many patients pursue penile enlargement ‘treatments’ such as acid injections, ligament cutting, cadaver cell transfers, and other dangerous procedures,” says Dr. Elist. “With Penuma®, we pursued a science-backed solution in collaboration with top surgeons from across the US. We’ve published our results in major medical journals and have helped men from around the world feel better about themselves.”
The psychological side of sexuality
Sexual arousal, response, and experience are influenced by both physical and psychological stimuli. Physical touch or visual images are often thought of as the primary factors involved in sex drive, but thoughts and emotions also play an important role.
“One’s mental state can significantly impact sexual function, affecting both the ability to become aroused or maintain an erection, libido, and overall satisfaction,” says Dr. Elist. “Negative mental states such as anxiety, stress, and depression can lead to sexual dysfunction, along with low self-esteem or body image concerns. Conversely, a positive mental state can enhance sexual experiences and create a supportive environment for sexual expression.”
Dr. Elist explains that the mental and physical aspects of sexual experiences are complex and interconnected. As a result, improving sexual well-being can involve addressing both physical and psychological issues.
“If someone is experiencing difficulties with sexual function, seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or mental health professional can help address any underlying mental or physical health concerns,” Dr. Elist explains. “Improving sexual well-being requires taking steps to build self-confidence, form strong emotional connections, practice a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and adequate sleep, and communicate openly with partners.”
Penuma® helps to improve sexual health by boosting men’s confidence, which is one of the keys to healthy sexual relations. When someone is uncomfortable with their body, confidence can falter. Penuma® has allowed thousands of men to experience a level of confidence that increases their sexual function and satisfaction.
“The confidence that you experience when you feel good about your body helps to reduce anxiety and negativity, resulting in improved sexual function and greater pleasure,” says Dr. Elist. “When you feel good about yourself — the way you look and the impression your appearance has on your partner — you are more likely to relax and enjoy the sexual experience.”
Helping veterans to experience better sexual health
Statistics show that nearly 30 percent of veterans who served during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. How often the condition results in sexual dysfunction is difficult to determine because discussing the topic is often seen as taboo, meaning many do not talk about it at all.
“One of the main reasons people are hesitant to discuss sexual issues is the social stigma surrounding sexuality, particularly with regard to certain sexual behaviors or identities,” says Dr. Elist. “Personal discomfort or preference may also make it difficult for some individuals to discuss their sexuality. It’s important to recognize that open discussion of sexuality is a crucial aspect of personal growth, development, and sexual health and well-being.”
Veterans who seek treatment for sexual dysfunction at Dr. Elist’s clinic undergo a comprehensive evaluation that includes medical, psychological, and sexual history, as well as laboratory testing to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The severity of the patient’s condition is also assessed using validated questionnaires that guide the management of the patient’s condition and help manage their expectations.
For veterans with erectile dysfunction and comorbidities that negatively affect sexual function, Dr. Elist has found that lifestyle modifications like changes in diet, exercise, and overall health may be sufficient. In other cases, FDA-approved treatments or combination therapies with pharmaceuticals and hormone replacement may be the most effective option. Many veterans who are patients also opt for the Penuma® implant, which follows a thorough consultation and evaluation process to discuss potential risks, complications, and expected outcomes.
“Fortunately, sexual dysfunction is a treatable symptom of PTSD,” Dr. Elist shares. “Men who experience sexual dysfunction as a result of PTSD should seek guidance and support from their healthcare provider or mental health expert for appropriate treatment options.”