Help for impotence starts with frank talk with doctor

accreditation
Men may be reluctant to get medical help for ED.
Men may be reluctant to get medical help for ED.

Erectile dysfunction is often treatable, but many men hesitate to discuss it with their doctor.

What's more, doctors don't often bring it up with their patients, according to Dr Susan MacDonald, a urological surgeon at Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center.

"I think it's because of the stigma attached to it," she said.

When she asks men about whether they can maintain an erection, most say they can – until she asks if they would like their erection to be better.

"Maybe you can get an erection, but you can't keep it or it's not fully rigid," MacDonald said in a Penn State Health news release. "That's erectile dysfunction, and I can help you," she tells them.

Erectile dysfunction may not be life-threatening, but it can affect a man's quality of life, she said.

"It's not something people talk about over dinner," MacDonald said. "But it is exceedingly common, so just bring it up to your doctor."

Other options

The simplest treatments are medications such as Levitra, Viagra and Cialis, she said.

MacDonald noted that men taking nitroglycerin for heart problems cannot take these pills. In addition, health insurance may not cover the drugs.

But other options exist, too. Men can try an injectable medication, or an external vacuum pump, she said. There's also an intra-urethral suppository that dissolves and creates an erection, MacDonald said.

A penile implant includes a pump in the scrotum so men can control their erections.

"That's a really great option for a lot of people because it provides spontaneity and is typically covered by insurance," MacDonald said. "A lot of it is patient preference."

A frank discussion

Although erectile dysfunction occurs mostly in older men, it can happen in younger men. And it may be a sign of early heart disease, she said.

Men shouldn't be afraid of having a frank discussion with their primary care doctor, MacDonald said.

"That's the biggest thing in terms of overall men's health," she said. "Getting them in the door."

MacDonald also suggests bringing your partner along for the meeting.

"It's good to sit down as a couple and make the decisions together," she said.

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4183 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 5058 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.93
-1.8%
Rand - Pound
19.45
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.37
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.70
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,643.66
0.0%
Silver
18.87
0.0%
Palladium
2,073.00
0.0%
Platinum
858.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
86.15
-5.0%
Top 40
57,110
-3.1%
All Share
63,417
-2.9%
Resource 10
56,319
-7.5%
Industrial 25
78,436
-1.2%
Financial 15
14,142
-1.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE