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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Why You Shouldn't Be Embarrassed Talking About Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

by Andy Boysan (BPharm)

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

For many men it’s their worst nightmare: you meet somebody, hit it off, and then take things into the bedroom — only to then find that you are not able to ‘get it up’ or are unable to ‘stay hard.’ It can be difficult to know what to say or do — or where to turn for advice and encouragement.

Sadly, men’s health concerns have traditionally been held as something to be kept private, and many men struggle to speak openly about their penile health. Luckily, a more open dialogue surrounding male sexual health is starting to emerge — giving men the confidence to voice their concerns. This is great as it encourages both men and women to have more open and frank discussions and relationships.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is not something that you should be embarrassed about. It is more common than you think, and it’s 100% not a reflection of your sexual prowess or masculinity. Here are some facts on stats on ED to show you that you are not alone in this.


Why are people embarrassed about ED?

The NHS has calculated that around half of men aged 40-70 experience ED. In addition to this, findings presented in a 2013 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that 26% of men under 40 are also now affected by ED.  

However, despite the prevalence of ED, men can still be weighed down by a perceived stigma attached to ED: they may believe that it makes them less of a man, that it reflects problems in the bedroom; or, if they are young, that it is something that only happens to older men and ‘not them.’

These concerns can make men feel that by having ED they are in some way a failure, or that they have done something to cause this. These negative feelings can eventually spiral into other health problems, making the ED even worse.

It’s important that men and women come together to battle the stigma attached to ED in order to stop the negative cycle. There is loads of information online about ED that should help men and women seek support, treatment, and advice.


What actually causes ED?

While some of the causes of ED can be partly self-inflicted (such as smoking, your diet, heavy drinking, or using illegal drugs) many are caused by underlying medical issues. The NHS advises that the following things can cause ED:

  • Physical issues
  • Injuries and surgery
  • Vasculogenic conditions
  • Neurogenic conditions
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Anatomical conditions
  • Medicinal side effects
  • Psychological issues

You can find out more about the causes of ED here.


Why you shouldn’t be embarrassed by ED

Firstly: you are not alone. Given the number of people that experience ED at some stage in their lives, you should not be surprised to find out that one of your friends, family, or work colleagues has also suffered from ED. There are plenty of  ED support groups and forums, both online and offline, that can help you get peer-to-peer advice.

There are also many treatments available for ED, so you don't need to feel that it is a condition which you are stuck with. These include:

  • Psychosexual counselling
  • Penile injections
  • Penile implants
  • Penile creams
  • Vacuum pumps
  • Hormone treatment
  • ED pills or ‘blue pills’
  • Surgery

Thanks to pharmaceutical research, there is a lot of medication out there to help treat ED — with these being available from most high street and online pharmacies. Examples of popular ED pills include: Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Spedra.

What should I do?   

ED is a real condition that requires specialist treatment, and you shouldn’t hesitate to seek help. Whatever your age, you should never feel that experiencing ED is just a part of life because it is not something that you have to put up with.

The NHS advise that it is important to establish what is causing you to experience ED and treat any underlying problems — it may be that your ED is the beginnings of a more dangerous condition, including heart disease.


ED is something that no one wants to experience. But if you are one of the many people to be affected by it then don’t feel embarrassed: seek advice and get it fixed. Involve your sexual partner(s) in the conversations about ED and be brave about sharing your experiences with others.

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Published on: 06-10-2017

Last modified on: 06-10-2019

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 06-10-2019

Next review date: 06-10-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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