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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.

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 Honest

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 morning erections
  • 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.