Suzanne Andrews, 46, an occupational therapist near Daytona Beach, Fla.,
realized there was a problem the first time she and her husband, Glenn, 53,
tried to make love.
She guessed it was ED, or erectile dysfunction, but didn’t know the cause,
or the remedy. As the host of Functional Fitness, which airs on her
local PBS station, WDSC TV, Andrews is used to solving challenges at work --
and she was equally determined to find a solution in the bedroom.
Nearly every man at some point has a problem getting or keeping an erection. There could be any number of reasons for it, ranging from fatigue, stress, or even side effects of a new medication. But as long as it's temporary and only happens occasionally, an erection problem is not generally a cause for concern. Some men, however, especially as they get older, experience a more frequent and longer lasting problem with erection known as erectile dysfunction or ED.
ED refers to a man's inability to...
Erectile dysfunction, which affects an estimated 15 million to 30 million
Americans and is more prevalent in men over 40, is defined as the inability to
achieve or maintain an erection adequate for sexual function. It can be
precipitated by medication, depression, stress, hormonal abnormalities, and
"It’s really common," says Ira Sharlip, MD, a urologist in the San
Francisco area. "There is good evidence now that erectile dysfunction, in
some cases, is a precursor or future marker for cardiovascular disease."
Sign of a Bigger Problem?
Sharlip recommends getting your guy evaluated for cardiovascular risk if
there is a persistent erectile issue that lasts for three months or longer.
Recent research has also shown that ED may be linked to diabetes, high
cholesterol, hypertension, as well as the early stages of heart disease, so
encouraging your man to set up a checkup with his doctor is a good starting
"The problem is, there are men who don’t come in because of embarrassment
and denial," Sharlip says. "If a man develops erectile dysfunction, he has a
window of opportunity to make some lifestyle changes that may reduce his risk
of having a heart attack."
How to Talk to Your Man About Sex
Every couple has issues in the bedroom, so that’s normal, says Marianne
Brandon, PhD, clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and author of Reclaiming
"I would encourage her to acknowledge how normal it is to have some sexual
concerns," Brandon says. "If she can say, ‘I know we have a great sex life and
everyone has concerns,’ that’s going to help him feel less criticized."
If couples don’t talk about their concerns, those issues tend to gain
momentum over time, Brandon says. "Even though those conversations can be
difficult to start, think about the conversation as being good for the future
of your relationship," she says.
Her advice: The most important thing is to start with praise.
Andrews followed that advice in talking with her husband and stressed that
she wanted to work through it together. "I told him that I loved him," she
says, "and it didn’t make him any less of a man because he had this problem. I
said, ‘I’m going to be there for him and support him.’"