The tradition is often intended to protect the victim of what is considered mysterious, calm the curiosity of those considered young and silence the cravings of the unconcerned.
Even though sometimes, some issues such as reproductive health specifically for men are well-kept as ‘public secrets’.
People only chose not to speak about sexual reproductive issues like male erectile dysfunction (ED), openly as doing so is either regarded as malicious or bad talk.
In other cases, it remains commonplace during a brawl between marrieds, to hear aggrieved women spill the ‘tea’ in public.
In Uganda, those considered elderly often encourage their little ones to desist from such loose mouthing acts and use phrases like “embwomuju tebitotorwa’ which means that home secrets should never be spilled to an outsider.
In most African societies, people often choose to solve certain problems by ignoring them. Hence, tradition has it that concealing such challenges as erectile dysfunction is a sign of resilience and kept top-secret. Traditional healers and herbalists often take advantage of such traditions to insinuate that conditions like that of ED require ‘spiritual’ cleansing to be cured.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often implied as “impotence,” the recurring inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.
It is estimated that 15 to 30 million men worldwide suffer from ED. While research shows that few men are born impotent, there is clinical evidence that the majority of men with ED problems are those tending to 50 years and above.
The causes of ED vary from one individual to another. It is often caused as a result of a disruption in the sequence in the nervous system, the spinal, and the area around the penis. Among the scientifically known root causes of ED include damaged nerves often caused as a result of diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and behaviors such as chronic alcoholism.
Other known ED conditions such as non-organics ED may be caused by psychological challenges such as depression or even experienced by men who feel prolonged anxiety when having sex.
In modern medicine ED treatment often includes viagra, and oral medication with drugs like yohimbine, hydrochloride and papaverine, herbs, weight loss plans, exercises, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.
Oral medication has been reported to influence many patients to treatment. However, the drugs are expensive for patients in developing countries. Most males with ED tend to resort to supplements and herbal medicines. Although some of these supplements and herbs have proven to be effective, they may contain combinations of ingredients that may be dangerous and cause other body complications.
There is growing literature on the psychological effects of ED on men living with the condition and their mental health and wellbeing.
Often the patients experience low self-esteem, stress, depression and ED negatively affects relationships and reduces life satisfaction.
There is also evidence to indicate that a combination of psychological approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) oral medication are effective treatments.
Lifestyle changes are arguably the most effective natural remedies for ED treatment for example losing weight, quitting smoking, alcohol and eating a balanced diet.
However, such natural remedies take time to have an evident effect depending on the ED cause, are difficult to achieve and may not show signs of improvement if not supplemented with medication or other forms of treatment.
In recent times, the gyrating beliefs specifically among Christian populations have transformed some of the ways some of these canonical Africa beliefs about reproductive health issues for men are perceived.
This has allowed for the disclosure of the condition to religious leaders in prayer and hope for divine intervention. It’s arguably true that even among such belief systems, men living with ED conditions expect a certain level of confidentiality from the religious leader and prefer not to use their conditions as sermon illustrations.
In very unusual circumstances, those who profess to be healed disclose their experiences in testimonies to fellow congregants. Whether healable or treatment, male sexual reproductive issues such as ED remain a very ‘embarrassing’ issue for men who often choose to live with the condition secretly.
Laetitia Mugerwa is a Ugandan writer, and founder of Empowerment Initiative for Women and Youth Uganda that helps rural women and youth attain economic empowerment through skills development.
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