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ERECTION PROBLEMS: THE PELVIC STEAL TEST

Pelvic steal is a disheartening syndrome that works like this: A man gets a full erection, but when he starts to have intercourse, his arteries sabotage him. The buttocks and leg muscles used in intercourse demand oxygen from the blood to nourish their movement, so they steal blood away from the penis. In a man without arterial problems, the blood flow would just increase to meet the demand. But with pelvic steal disease, the penis is robbed of the blood it needs to maintain an erection and the man loses his potency.

Wally was a typical pelvic steal patient. This 73-year-old retired seaman complained of poorly sustained erections. He was able to get good erections, but as soon as he started to thrust, they would disappear. Of course, both Wally and his wife were upset by this turn of events. The problem had come on gradually, and Wally and his wife didn’t understand what was happening.

First, the doctor took Wally’s penile blood pressure. Then he had him exercise vigorously for about five minutes by going up and down a small staircase, without stopping. After this brief exertion, it was time to measure Wally’s penile blood pressure again.

Sure enough, in Wally’s case, his pressure was noticeably lower after the brief exercise. Often the problem may be solved simply by having the woman on top, and Wally and his wife found this suggestion solved their problem satisfactorily. If this change doesn’t work, surgery to remove the obstruction, to bypass the affected area or to dilate the offending pelvic arteries may resolve the difficulty.

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