It’s that time again. The beginning of a new year – a time when many of us resolve to do better for our health, our lives and our relationships. Ladies, it probably doesn't shock you to know that you’re the ones making – and trying hard to keep – the majority of those resolutions. It isn't that men don’t care. They’re just not typically as keyed in to a systematic approach to self-improvement as you are. This simple fact brings me to a sensitive subject – erectile dysfunction. You've probably heard the term (or the acronym, ED) and you may have even seen the commercials for drugs to treat it during a recent Sunday afternoon football game on television. But it’s a subject most men don’t want to discuss, especially those who suffer from it. If untreated, ED can wreak havoc on their physical and psychological health as well as their relationships. Here’s what you should know in the event you ever need to help your man get to the bottom of erectile issues.
First, erectile dysfunction is a chronic condition. This isn't the occasional loss of erection during intercourse over the course of a relationship. Erectile dysfunction is classified as the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sex. It is also often a symptom of another condition that may be doing damage – like uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease or other problems. Sometimes, simply treating the underlying condition is enough to reverse the erection problems. Other times, more focused treatments are required. Either way, seeking evaluation by a urologic specialist is important as early as possible.
And that’s usually the toughest part – the man feeling comfortable enough to seek treatment. This is where you can play a vital role. In my experience, male patients whose female partners approach the conversation with them in a calm and non-judgmental way typically seek treatment sooner. It isn't a stretch to believe that supportive and open communication with your partner can make a big difference in how they view their health and sexual function. Especially for men, their ability to function properly during sex plays a significant role in their self-confidence. A problem with that function is demoralizing enough, so a partner who can approach the topic carefully when there’s an issue is a big help.
But be prepared. He may not be ready to pick up the phone and make a doctor’s appointment the moment you discuss it. Try to be patient. Instead of discussing him specifically, try to discuss the condition itself – and the fact that it affects millions of men each year. Most often, it’s temporary and easily remedied with the right course of treatment by a skilled physician. And when it isn't, that still doesn't mean all hope is lost. There are now more treatment options than ever when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. From medication and behavioral therapy to other tools and even penile implant surgery, no man should suffer in silence or embarrassment.
Though the holidays are now behind us, the stress can linger. This can absolutely affect anyone’s sexual function – including men. But if the issue is persistent, a frank but gentle conversation and a great doctor sooner rather than later are often enough to put erectile dysfunction in the rear view mirror for both of you. Best wishes for a happy, HEALTHY year ahead.