Having trouble getting an erection can be embarrassing. No man wants to admit that he can’t get it up. Some men are so embarrassed that they’re even reluctant to talk to their doctor about erectile dysfunction.
That’s bad for several reasons. Erection difficulties can be an early warning sign of serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by certain medications, such as blood pressure drugs. And no matter what’s causing your erection problems, your doctor can help, either with simple advice or medication.
An occasional problem achieving an erection is nothing to worry about. But failure to do so more than half of the time at any age may indicate a condition that needs treatment. Are you at risk for erectile dysfunction (ED)? Take the following quiz and find out.
Are you overweight? Yes or No
Do you have any of the following conditions?
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries from plaque)
Here’s how to overcome embarrassment and get help.
Recognize That You’re Not Alone
Chances are you’re not the first man to talk to your doctor about erection problems. More than half of men aged 40 to 70 reported some degree of erectile difficulties, according to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. Ten percent were unable to obtain or maintain an erection during sex. Especially as men get older, erection problems are a chief complaint during doctor’s visits.
Finding the Courage
For a lot of guys, bringing up the problem in the first place is the toughest step. Choose an approach that feels comfortable. When you call to make an appointment, you don’t have to say, “I’m having trouble getting an erection.” You can simply say you want to talk to the doctor about a sexual health concern. If necessary, you can use the same words to introduce the subject once you sit down with your doctor.
Be as open and candid as possible with your doctor. Provide as much information as you can. It will help your doctor to know:
When you first noticed that you were having erection difficulties
Whether you have problems while masturbating or only while having sex with your partner
What medications you’re taking
Any other symptoms or health problems you’ve noticed
Whether you smoke or drink alcohol
How you and your partner have dealt with your erection difficulties
Whether you’ve been feeling anxious or depressed
How you would rate your sex drive
What factors you think may be causing your problem
The more information you can provide, the better able your doctor will be to help.
Bring a List of Questions
Because talking about erection problems can be embarrassing, it can be tempting to get it over with as quickly as possible. To make sure you get all the information you need, bring a list of questions to your visit. Some examples might include:
Is it normal to have trouble getting erections at my age?
Could erection problems be a sign of an underlying condition?
Is this a physical or psychological problem?
Should I consider seeing a psychotherapist?
Would an erectile dysfunction drug help me?
If I start using an ED drug, will I have to go use it forever?
Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to improve the quality of my erections?
Do I need to see an urologist or other specialist?