This article is the first in a series of blogs about erectile dysfunction (ED) – having difficulties getting or maintaining an erection. Which means most men will immediately click anywhere but on this post.
Why? Because not being able to get hard (on demand, immediately and always) and stay hard (no matter what) is most men’s number one fear.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but guess what?
Penises are unreliable.
Nearly every man has erection wobbles from time to time – it’s NORMAL! If you’re a bloke, please read on. You might just find yourself pleasantly reassured if you do….
Men are hugely misrepresented in the media: there’s a perception you’re always up for sex, ultra-confident in bed and never have problems.
The reality is very different.
Nearly half of the emails I get asking for help about sex are from men. Nearly all of these concern erection problems or premature ejaculation and are from guys who are desperate for reassurance and terrified of being ridiculed.
Many men feel traumatized by erectile dysfunction (ED). The ability to get and maintain an erection is so important for their self-esteem and relationship.
If you’re one of them and worried sick about what’s going on, let me make you feel instantly better about yourself: 4.3 million other men in the UK alone are going through what you are.
That’s a lot of men.
Twenty one percent of men in the UK are affected by erectile dysfunction
The stats are similar for the US and most Western countries.
The next time you’re in the pub, have a look around the room and I guarantee you’ll be looking at men who are going through exactly what you are.
The really ridiculous thing about ED is that, not only is it common, it’s often easy to fix.
The main reason ED is a problem for men is because they don’t seek help for it
It starts with denial: you pretend it’s nothing. You drank too much, you’re tired. Then you realise something is actually wrong. Instead of doing what you’d do if something weird was happening to another part of your body – see the doctor immediately, tell your partner – instead you suffer in silence.
Too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it, most men wait two years to seek medical advice and 42 per cent don’t seek advice at all.
Not only are you then on a difficult emotional journey, it’s one you’re doing solo, because lots of you don’t tell your partner what’s going on.
Not surprisingly, this impacts terribly on relationships.
Men with ED often stop instigating sex, worried they won’t be able to perform.
Often, they’ll stop any physical contact for fear it might lead to sex. The sex they do have is solo, usually done watching porn, leaving their partners feeling like they’re having an affair or not interested in them sexually any more.
Men aren’t the only ones not talking about ED
Women don’t talk about ED because they’re worried they’ll upset their partner, embarrass them…or that they might be the problem.
They worry they aren’t attractive or ‘sexy’ enough, as ‘tight’ as they used to be. Or that their partner just doesn’t love them anymore.
Gay couples worry about the same issues.
The truth is, physically-linked ED isn’t linked to desire at all. It wouldn’t matter who you were about to have sex with.
But why won’t my penis work properly?
Put simply, erectile dysfunction is when you can’t get an erection at all, you can’t keep an erection long enough to have penetrative sex (intercourse) or it’s not hard enough to achieve this.
This might happen all the time or now and then.
Why is it happening?
The penis is affected by anything taken into the body, so drinking too much, taking recreational drugs, some medications (anti-depressants are a prime culprit), smoking and a bad diet can all affect your erection quality.
The healthier you are generally, the better: diabetes and high cholesterol and heart disease can all be causes of ED.
Erections are also affected by emotions – if you’re stressed, arguing with your partner, worried about work, exhausted, depressed or traumatized by something, this will all affect how your penis performs.
It can also be caused by your penis getting older, along with the rest of you.
A lot of physical problems affect blood flow to the penis and it is problems with blood flow that affects erections.
ED is common and ‘normal’ and solutions are out there
Changing your lifestyle can make a huge difference. Exercising, eating healthily, reducing stress, not smoking, easing up on alcohol and not taking drugs – all these things will reduce the symptoms.
Sildenafil medications (like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra) are other well-known solutions to explore.
Also ask your pharmacist or your doctor to advise about other treatments including vacuum pumps (they oxygenate the penis, improving erection quality), injectable treatments, hormone therapy (like taking testosterone) or penile implants.
The options for ED are straight-forward and there are plenty of them.
Enough of men pretending they’re ten feet tall and bullet proof.
You’re humans, not robots. Our bodies don’t behave the way we want them to occasionally. So what?
Stop panicking, take control and get your life and your love life back on track.
THE MYTHS ABOUT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
It’s not an old man’s disease: it does become more common as men age, but it affects men of all ages.
It’s got nothing to do with masculinity: real men have erection wobbles too.
It doesn’t mean you don’t feel like sex: desire and ED aren’t linked. You could be more aroused than you’ve ever been and still not get an erection if your problem is physical.
It IS linked to your health: Not getting an erection could actually save your life because it can alert you to underlying medical conditions you might not have noticed – like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Caught early, they can be treated easily.
It’s not all in your head: worrying about getting an erection certainly doesn’t help but if it’s caused by a physical problem, which it often is, not worrying isn’t going to fix it.