Dr Flo, during a recent visit to a doctor, I had blood tests done and the results were startling. The doctor said that I have vitamin D deficiency and told me to sit in the sun. Kindly shed light on this and its implications. ADW
Vitamin D is an important vitamin and it influences almost all systems in the body.
It is made from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It can also be found in fatty fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, and fortified dairy and grain products. Levels in blood of between 20 and 50 ng/ml are considered normal.
Vitamin D deficiency can occur if you do not have enough exposure to sunlight; if you always wear sunscreen; if you have a strict vegan diet; if you are not able to absorb vitamin D well from the intestines; if your kidneys are not able to convert Vitamin D to its active form; if you are elderly; if you are obese; or if you have dark skin and live far from the equator.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones, bone and muscle pain, frequent infections, fatigue, depressed mood, poor wound healing and hair loss. Adequate vitamin D helps protect against diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, cancer and dementia.
Adequate sun exposure, vitamin D-rich diet and supplements help to restore Vitamin D levels. Living in an equatorial country is not enough to get adequate sun exposure, you must get direct sun exposure on your skin.
Dr Flo, I suffer from premature ejaculation, which I suspect is a side effect of masturbation. Is there a possibility that I may never recover from premature ejaculation? And if quitting masturbation will help me recover (will it?), how do I stop masturbating? RW
Dr Flo, how do I stop masturbating? Please help me. Pius
Dear RW and Pius,
Masturbation is a common practice amongst both men and women, but it is more common in men.
Due to the hormones (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and testosterone) that are released, it has a pleasure and reward mechanism, it relaxes the mind, and also bonds a person with the experience.
This can make it become a coping mechanism, which can lead to addiction.
Excessive masturbation and addiction can lead to low self-esteem, depression, shame and guilt, anti-social behaviour, unrealistic sexual expectations due to use of pornography, loss of productivity because of using up a lot of time watching pornography and/or masturbating, relationship problems and genital irritation.
It can also lead to watching more “hard-core” pornography and may lead to engagement in sexually deviant behaviour in a bid to get new exciting ways to get sexual pleasure. For some people, it can interfere with normal sexual relations.
To manage excessive masturbation, the first step is to acknowledge that it is a problem, then make deliberate efforts to stop it. It is best to get an alternative way to use your energy like exercise, creative arts or participating in volunteer programmes.
Avoid being alone and interact with other people. Delete all pornographic material from your devices, and if possible, install a software to prevent access to unwanted sites, or one that notifies a trusted person which sites you are accessing.
It is also beneficial to get psychological and social support. Therapy includes stress management, identification of triggers, coping mechanisms, behavioural modification, learning to replace mental imagery and couple therapy.
It is possible to recover from negative effects of the habit. To manage premature ejaculation, avoid masturbation for some time, deal with the psychological issues and strengthen the pelvic muscles using Kegel exercises – tighten the muscles that you would use to stop urine flow. Contract these muscles 10 times and repeat at least three times a day.
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