Nov. 11, 2002 -- Despite the smiling faces in most drug ads aimed at men with erectile dysfunction, a new survey shows the condition can have a serious psychological impact -- even when it's treated with the latest erection-inducing medications.
The survey found more than 8 in 10 men with erectile dysfunction (ED) say the condition affects their ability to enjoy a normal sex life. And although most men felt their doctor understood the impact of ED on their life, many older men or those who had lapsed treatment felt their doctor didn't understand what they were going through.
Researchers presented the survey last month at the 2nd World Congress of Men's Health in Vienna, Austria. The survey was conducted in 12 countries and included interviews with almost 1,000 men with ED between the ages of 40 and 70 and more than 2,100 men without ED over the age of 45.
When asked what they missed most about their lives before ED, three-fourths said they missed the spontaneity of sex and the ability to not have to plan or schedule sex. About nine in 10 said they miss feeling in control of their sex life and want their sexual experiences to feel more normal.
Even when the men with ED were being treated effectively for their condition, nearly three-quarters said their treatment was a constant reminder of their condition. And nearly 70% of men with ED said they didn't feel in control of their sex life, despite being treated for it.
"Erectile dysfunction goes everywhere with him, chipping away at his confidence and self-assurance," says Harmut Porst, professor at the Urological/Andrological Institute in Hamburg, Germany, in a news release. "When treating ED, our goal is to restore normality to a man's sex life -- in order to do this we have to recognize that ED is more than a physical condition and that it is necessary to address a man's individual needs as well as those of his partner."
In fact, close to 70% of the men with ED in the survey said they felt that they are letting their partner down, and more than 40% said their partners feel they can no longer initiate sex.
Those feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment often lead men to hide their condition from their partners. The survey found that, on average, 10% of men do not tell their partner that they suffer from ED. And in some countries, that number is as high as one in four.