World Health Day – a global awareness day to draw attention to a specific health concern all over the world – is celebrated today.

Every April 7, the day is held to mark the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organisation (WHO) which was created in 1948. This year, in a world where the right to health of millions of people is coming under increasing threat,the theme for World Health Day 2024 is ‘my health, my right’. It has decided to focus on this to ‘champion the rights of everyone everywhere’ and this can include anything that is related to health and wellbeing.

For example, the WHO believes sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries.

The WHO acknowledges that the way men and women can achieve sexual health and wellbeing depends largely on their access to informationabout sex, knowledge about the risks they may face and their vulnerability to adverse consequences of unprotected sexual activity, as well as their ability to be able to access sexual health care and living in an environment that promotes sexual health.

Sexual health-related issues can be wide-ranging, and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure.

One widely reported major factor that effects sexual health amongst men is the deteriorating impact on male performance as they age and erectile dysfunction. In a report, the WHO projected that 320 million men worldwide would be affected by ED by 2025 due to an increasingly wide range of different circumstances.

ED is suffered by nearly half of men in the UK with one study in 2021, finding that over 16.5 million (48 per cent of men) always, sometimes or occasionally experience it. It has also been claimed that 4.5million drugs for ED were prescribed across the UK in 2023 costing the NHS more than £15million.

There are a number of different treatments availablefor ED including oral medications, which are the most popular, such as Sildenafil, better known as Viagra and Tadalafil, more widely recognised as Adcirca and Cialis. These medications enhance the blood flow and allow the man to get an erection in response to sexual stimulation. However, the ‘little blue pills’ are not always successful for every man and can have side effects such as flushing, nasal congestion, headache, visual changes, backache and stomach upset.

Other medications for ED include self-injections into the base or side of the penis, intraurethral therapy which involves placing a suppository inside the penis, as well as testosterone replacement – this is usually for people with particularly low levels of hormone testosterone.

Doctors may recommend different treatments such as a penis pump which is used to suck out the air inside the tube and create a vacuum that pulls blood into the penis where a tension ring is then used to keep it firm. There is also the option of penile implants which consist of either inflatable or malleable rods.

A relatively new type of at-home treatment is also becoming increasingly popular which is drug-free with no prescription required. Vertica is a V-shaped medical device which uses radiofrequency technology to regenerate collagen and elastin fibre tissues in the penis.

Vertica by Ohh-Med Medical acts like a ‘gym for the penis’ and traps the blood, decreasing the leakage from the penis and improving performance for a sustained period. Men are recommended to use the device three times per week for 30 minutes for the first month and then twice weekly for another 30 days. It is backed by a scientific study where participants who had ED for a sustained period achieved an 85 per cent success rate, experiencing positive results in just four weeks.

Studies have also found that simple exercise can improve ED, while as the condition can be caused by stress and relationship tension, psychological counselling an also help. However, as we celebrate World Health Day and this year’s theme of ‘my health, my right’, making sure our sexual health is the best it can be – whatever the solution – means fostering positive relationships and protecting our overall long-term health.