Ask the doctor
Professor Kerryn Phelps answers readers’ questions on iron deficiency, erectile dysfunction and the best type of exercise if you suffer from osteoarthritis.
QMy 54-year-old partner has had difficulties with having an erection and reaching orgasm for a few years now. Although Viagra has worked at helping with both of these, the problem is still there so that he needs to take Viagra every time to ensure success. Is there anything more that can be done to fix these difficulties? Or is the only solution taking Viagra? F.A., Tas. Erectile dysfunction is a common problem in men as they get older. There are many physical, psychological and medical causes. Some things he can do to help are to maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, not drink alcohol, exercise regularly, and check if any medications he is taking affect sexual performance. A thorough medical check-up and lifestyle assessment is essential. If there is no treatable cause, a medication like Viagra may provide long-term assistance.
QI am 74 and recently discovered I have sarcoidosis, due to an X-ray of my lungs. Nothing yet in heart and eyes. Will there be a permanent damage of the inflamed tissue, or will it regenerate? I have had three colds recently, and the coughing part was the worst I had in my life. Is there anything I can do to help my immune system, or what should I avoid? C.P., Vic. Sarcoidosis is a condition where nodules called granulomas develop in the lungs and other parts of the body such as skin, eyes or heart. Symptoms include cough, fatigue and weight loss, but other symptoms will depend on which body parts are affected. You will need close monitoring by your GP and specialist to detect and treat any complications. Most, but not all, people will fully recover.
QI have iron deficiency anaemia that leaves me feeling flat and constantly tired. After seeing my doctor I started taking iron supplements but they don’t seem to be having an effect. What other things can I do to increase my iron levels? G. H., Qld. You first need to know why your iron is low. With iron deficiency anaemia there can be several problems: not enough iron in your diet, not absorbing oral iron (because of a gut problem), or losing too much (through bleeding, such as heavy periods or gut inflammation or bowel cancer) or using up iron because of chronic disease. You need to have further investigations. You may need an intravenous iron infusion to help you catch up.
QI had four children in my 20s, which completely changed my figure. I am happy with the size of my breasts but they are saggy, and I feel a rejuvenation in that area would really boost my self-esteem. Is it possible to have a breast lift without having implants? What are the non-surgical options to help me feel a little like my old self again? B. K., NSW. Your surgical options will depend on the size and shape of your breasts. A mastopexy is a breast lift procedure without implants.
Your GP can refer you to a plastic surgeon for an opinion. You can tone your muscles and change your body shape by changing the amount and type of exercise you do, such as a combined aerobic and resistance program.
QDoes physical activity help osteoarthritis or will it make my symptoms worse? Are some forms of exercise better than others? D. P., Vic. Exercise is an essential part of managing the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. You will need an exercise program that focuses on strengthening the muscles around joints and encouraging flexibility. If weight bearing is too painful, try water-based exercise. Tai Chi is another option. Your GP may refer you to a physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist for advice.