Despite the number of public figures who admit to dealing with erectile dysfunction, and the ED medication television commercials featuring images of “manly” men with trucks and motorcycles and brawn to spare, many men are still hesitant to discuss their issues with their doctor. Whether due to fear, embarrassment or another reason, thousands of men are suffering in silence — much to the frustration of their partners and themselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way. While it might seem like an uncomfortable conversation for you, your doctor has most likely heard your story before and wants to help. A few moments of possibly awkward conversation can lead to a prescription for an ED medication or another intervention that can help and get you back on track to a healthy and fulfilling sex life.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
Let’s get it out there: Almost all men suffer from erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. Stress, alcohol, obesity, anxiety and even self-image can all prevent or keep you from sustaining an erection. When this happens occasionally, and you can pinpoint a specific cause, there’s generally no cause for concern.
However, when the problem is sustained and occurs on a regular basis, a visit to your doctor may be in order. ED can cause significant problems in a relationship: You may feel embarrassed and inadequate, and avoid intimacy as a result. Your partner may feel confused, rejected and hurt — and in some cases, may even feel as if he or she is the cause of your issue. Such feelings can irreparably harm a relationship and damage the trust between partners, making it important that you determine the cause of problem and address it.
In fact, the cause of the ED could be an even larger issue than the effects on your relationship. A number of serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes and prostate problems can limit the ability to get and maintain an erection. Talking with your doctor about your issues may lead to the discovery of one of these issues, allowing you be treated for the underlying — possibly seriously harmful — condition.
What to Say
Many men struggle to even make the appointment to discuss erectile dysfunction with their doctor. The idea of telling the receptionist or appointment center representative why you want to see the doctor can be embarrassing, but you do not have to get into specifics. Just tell the representative that you want to discuss a male health issue. Better yet, schedule an annual physical exam — you probably need one anyway — and mention the issue during that appointment.
When you finally get in to the doctor’s office, you may be tempted to distract him from the problem by focusing on other problems. However, the best approach is to simply come out with it. A straightforward statement such as “I’m concerned that I may have ED” is enough to get the ball rolling. That’s if you even have to bring the topic up yourself — there’s a reasonably good chance that your doctor is going to broach the topic for you. Be honest, and don’t try to downplay or hide the issue. Again, you probably aren’t the first man to discuss ED with your doctor, and you won’t be the last.
If you’re still uncomfortable, consider writing down your questions and concerns before your appointment. Not only will jotting down some notes keep your on track and make sure that all of your questions are addressed, if you are too embarrassed to say something to your doctor, you can give him the list of questions to review, and approach the topic that way.
Once you have mentioned your issues with ED, be prepared to answer some follow-up questions and a thorough medical examination. It’s highly unlikely that your doctor will simply write you a prescription for an ED medication and send you on your way. Be prepared to answer questions related to the when the problem began, how often it happens, the circumstances of your ED and other related issues, such as medications your taking, other symptoms you’re having. These are all to help your doctor learn about any of those underlying conditions.
Your doctor will probably ask questions that feel very intimate, questions specifically related to your sexual habits and ability to perform. While you might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, understand that your doctor is asking from a strictly professional perspective and not to be nosy or judgmental. Understanding all of the facts related to your ED helps your doctor more effectively solve the problem and prescribe a treatment plan that will work.
In some cases, your doctor may decide to refer you to an urologist for further testing and investigation. If you’re visiting a new doctor, ask for referrals from family and friends and spend some time researching the physician before making an appointment. You want to meet with someone you’re comfortable with, and simply choosing the first name on your insurance carrier’s provider list could lead to an uncomfortable situation.
Talking with your doctor about ED doesn’t have to be an embarrassing or uncomfortable experience. Approach the appointment as you would for any other health issue, realizing that you are doing something important for both your health and your relationship. You might even leave the doctor’s office feeling a lot more like that uber-confident man driving his pickup truck through the desert.