What couples should know about erectile dysfunction

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Presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin is starting a conversation about ED and sharing advice from experts

Struggles in the bedroom can be really difficult to talk about, but it really isn’t something to leave ignored. There are a lot of misconceptions about erectile dysfunction (ED), which can be easily treated and could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs attention.

Hector Ó hEochagáin has teamed up with Viatris to launch a new campaign called Talk ED, encouraging men to talk about intimate health issues more openly.

Hector is hosting a seven part video series on his Facebook page with leading experts on a variety of topics relating to ED, including relationships, nutrition, physical and mental health. New episodes will be released weekly, with interviews with fitness expert Niall Ronan, nutrition consultant Paula Mee, psychologist Allison Keating and more.

Here, watch Hector’s chat with GP Dr Phil Kieran, plus discover some of the common misconceptions about ED.

Dr Phil, in your experience, why do you think there is a fear and taboo around talking about ED?

I think there is still a lot of taboo in Ireland surrounding anything about sex. To some people it is still very much something that should never be discussed in public. This causes increased embarrassment when it comes to even acknowledging that this is a problem in the first place. This is I feel one of the biggest and most important barriers to overcome in the campaign to raise awareness about ED. On top of this a lot of men will feel that it reflects poorly on their manhood or virility or fertility to admit that they have problems with ED. ED is a surprisingly common condition with 1 in 3 men reporting some symptoms of it during their life so I would encourage men to stop hiding it and to get the treatment they deserve. THis is not a condition anyone should “just live with”

You mention some really common conditions that ED can be an early symptom of, high blood pressure and diabetes for example. Are patients surprised at the variety of causes of ED, and how easy it can be to solve for some people?

I think a huge number of people think that it is in their heads or that it is a stand alone condition that has no other implications. To address the first thing only about 10% of all ED is purely psychological and therefore I really think we can’t overstate how important it is for men to get checked out in this regard. High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol often have no symptoms until it’s too late so ED can be an early warning sign which means we can do something to fix the problem. For some people protecting their future health by lowering their blood pressure can fix the ED problem as well. So, bottom line, get checked out.

What is the number one thing you would tell someone experiencing ED?

Talk about it! ED is far more common than you think and it’s not something you should be embarassed about. Your GP will be more than happy to discuss the problem with you and to come up with a solution to the issue. Also it’s a good wake up call for those out there who haven’t been to a doctor in five or 10 years. Get things checked out, it will help ensure you have a long active life to look forward to.

For partners of a man experiencing ED, what is your advice so that we can be supportive in this situation?

Try to encourage them to talk to you about it. I think that open discussion around sex will benefit all couples but it can be a difficult topic to open up about. Don’t bring it up just after sex as this is likely to be a time of frustration and embarassment but talk about it at a neutral time. Maybe show them some of the statistics about how common it is and how treatable it is and make sure they know you understand that you don’t take this as a reflection on their feelings towards you. Having the pressure of your partner thinking that you no longer love them or find them attractive is almost certainly going to make the problem worse. Lastly be patient, recent research shows that it can take up to three years for a man to seek medical help with ED. This is a very personal issue and addressing it can’t be rushed.



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