So called harmless banter may be preventing men getting help for erectile dysfunction

It may seem like harmless banter, but for the millions of men living with erectile dysfunction, the ‘jokey narrative’ around the condition and the pressure felt to live up to expectations may be preventing them from seeking the support, medical advice and treatments they need.

By Nigel Booth
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 5:45 pm
Millions of men living with erectile dysfunction not seeking medical advice (photo: adobe)
Millions of men living with erectile dysfunction not seeking medical advice (photo: adobe)

Most men are likely to experience erectile dysfunction (ED) at some point in their lives, but nearly all the men who took part in research carried out by Well Pharmacy

(91 per cent), said they have felt a sense of shame around the condition with 62 per cent saying the jokey narrative of ‘keeping it up’ adds to the silence.  

In fact, only nine per cent of men asked have spoken to a loved one or healthcare specialist about the condition.  

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Any man of any age can suffer from erectile dysfunction (photo: adobe)

One man who has experienced this is Antony Cunningham-Smith, 52, from Bournemouth.  

Antony was a nurse for 23 years and chose to leave the job he loved following a diagnosis of epilepsy. He was shocked when the medication he was put on for the condition prevented him

from getting an erection. A married man and father of one, he felt stigmatised and found it difficult to tell anyone. 

“The biggest issue around this condition is the silence that surrounds it. I felt ‘lesser’ and despite working as a nurse for over two decades, I didn’t want to talk about it. It started

Erectile dysfunction a big problem (photo: adobe)

to form a silence in my marriage and impacted greatly on my self-esteem.

"Eventually, I mentioned it to my pharmacist as part of a medication review. They helped me so much and really put me at ease. To any bloke struggling, you must put the embarrassment to one side. I know it’s difficult to talk about, but so is living with erectile dysfunction.  

He continued ‘I have great mates, but it isn’t something you can mention down the pub. I didn’t want to be the brunt of the joke – but speaking to a pharmacist in a private room really

helped me. I have since found a treatment that works, and life is good again.” 

To support the many people living with this condition, an advice guide about erectile dysfunction has been produced by Well to help people understand the causes, symptoms and treatment options as well as offering general guidance and support on dealing with erectile dysfunction.  

People can also speak to a member of the Well Pharmacy team instore, in a private consultation space.  

Deputy pharmacy superintendent at Well Pharmacy, Gillian Stone, said:   “Antony is not alone in his worries about erectile dysfunction, and I am so pleased he was able to get the right support and treatment. Experiencing erectile dysfunction can feel very isolating and we understand it can feel like a difficult issue to discuss.  

“Here at Well, we are working to reassure those living with this condition that there are treatment options out there, and how important it is to speak about it to your pharmacist or

doctor.  

“We want people to seek help and to ensure they feel comfortable doing so. We have produced a new downloadable guide explaining erectile dysfunction, which offers tips and general guidance, but mainly we created this guide to reassure people that they are not alone.”