Erectile dysfunction is incredibly common, but rarely discussed. There are solutions available and you probably have more options than you think. (Getty Pictures)

Words by Gavin Newsham.

It may be the subject of many cruel jokes, but erectile dysfunction is no laughing matter for men who suffer from it, not least because it’s one of the hardest topics to discuss, even with your loved ones.

In a recent survey conducted by Well Pharmacy, 66% of men surveyed admitted that they had never spoken to their partner about the problem, while 82% said they had never discussed it with close friends or loved ones either. family.

This week another poll, by Joe.co.uk, found that 72% of their users would be afraid of their partner’s reaction if they couldn’t get an erection, while 49% of their audience said they had, at times, struggled to get an erection.

Read more: Dates are more likely to end in sex if women make the first move, scientists say

The general inability of men to talk about their sexual well-being inevitably complicates matters.

“It’s a sensitive topic and it can be difficult to talk about,” says Gillian Stone, assistant director of pharmacy at Well Pharmacy.

“And the thought of talking about it can feel overwhelming. This, along with feeling embarrassed or judged, can play a part in why some people have trouble asking for help.

Watch: 7 stats you might not know about men’s health

Seeking help isn’t the only problem men face when it comes to erectile dysfunction. Some 43% of respondents to the Well survey also said it had stopped them from forming new relationships, while 55% admitted to feeling inadequate when it came to their sexual performance.

Although erectile dysfunction usually occurs in men over 40, it can occur at any age and you will be especially prone to it if you are overweight or obese and also suffer from fatigue. Drinking alcohol excessively or smoking cigarettes can also have a negative impact.

But there are also a range of health conditions that can make men more susceptible to erectile dysfunction, which can make it harder to get and keep an erection.

Diabetes, for example, can affect the blood supply and nerve endings in the penis, while hypertension can also damage the arteries that supply the penis.

Atherosclerosis, on the other hand, will cause your arteries to narrow and harden, limiting the amount of blood that can reach your penis and making erections more difficult.

Conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease as well as hormonal issues like hyperthyroidism can also present problems.

“The thing is, the process of getting an erection is complicated because it relies on the vascular, endocrine and central nervous systems and there are many health issues that can get in the way of this process, adds Stone.

Read more: A man’s guide to fighting belly fat

But it’s not just physical issues that can cause the problem. Often it is the psychological issues that cause the problem of stress, anxiety and depression, along with the medications usually prescribed to address them, which often results in a man’s inability to have an erection. .

Problems in your relationship and “performance anxiety” can also get in the way of things in the bedroom.

But help is at hand.

Many problems associated with erectile dysfunction can be solved simply by changing some of the less healthy lifestyle habits you may have adopted.

Adjusting your diet and leading a healthier lifestyle in general could help with erectile dysfunction.  (Getty Pictures)

Adjusting your diet and leading a healthier lifestyle in general could help with erectile dysfunction. (Getty Pictures)

Try eating a healthier diet and, if you’re overweight, lose a few pounds. Cut down on alcohol and increase the amount of exercise you do. And, if possible, also try to eliminate any unnecessary stress in your life.

If that doesn’t work, you may need additional assistance. “The most common type of medication for erectile dysfunction are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors such as sildenafil [sold as Viagra]“, explains Peter. While it was only available by prescription, Viagra is now available over-the-counter from pharmacies – just be sure to discuss any concerns with the pharmacist first.

It’s not the only road you can explore. Other common treatments include prostaglandin injections or lozenges inserted into the urethra, while some men may also benefit from using vacuum pumps, although all are significantly less popular than taking a product easily. available in pill form like Viagra.

Read more: More and more Brits are discussing sexual wellbeing at work

“These products tend to be less accepted by men because they see them as inhibitors of spontaneous sex,” says Stone. Remember, however, that you may need to try more than one treatment to find the right one for you, as each person’s response will be different.

What is essential, however, is that you do not suffer in silence. Taking that very important first step in sharing, discussing and resolving the issue, whether with a partner or a healthcare professional, can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it is imperative if you want your sex life to recover. on rails.

And the good news? Well, evidence shows that couples who have actually addressed the issue together report being closer because of it.

More help is available in Well Pharmacy’s Guide to Treating Erectile Dysfunction.