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Why Men Don’t Get Help for Erectile Dysfunction

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Erectile dysfunction affects over 30 million men in the United States alone. There are a number of effective treatments for ED, including oral medications like Viagra and Cialis, vacuum pumps, injections, and shockwave therapy. However, the majority of men do not get treatment, because:

  • they are embarrassed to ask for help
  • they are unaware that help is available, or
  • they cannot afford a doctor.

A study done by Dr. Brian Helfand of the Northshore University Health System and the University of Chicago found that only 25% of men with ED receive treatment1.

A survey of 597 men conducted in 2018 found that over 40% of men were Not Very Comfortable or Not At All Comfortable talking with their doctor about erectile dysfunction2.

Although it’s clear that men in the US are not getting the help they need, the problem is even worse in some cultures. A small study3 of 40- to 69-year-old men conducted in Japan found that:

  • 39% reported having sexual dysfunction. However, testing revealed that 92% actually met the criteria for ED.
  • Only 48% expressed an interest in treatment.
  • 58% said that they had not sought treatment because they were ashamed to talk to their doctor.
  • 42% were not aware that ED could be treated.
  • Only one man had actually sought treatment prior to the study.

It’s clear that embarrassment and lack of knowledge are keeping men from getting the help they need. This is a significant problem, because erectile dysfunction can sometimes be an indication of serious underlying medical problems.

In the United States, telemedicine companies such as Roman and BlueChew offer online consultation with doctors to obtain prescriptions for ED medications. The theory is that men may be more comfortable talking with a doctor online than face-to-face.

It’s important for men to overcome their discomfort and talk to their doctor about ED. There is really no reason for embarrassment; doctors treat hundreds of patients with erectile dysfunction. (See our article, “What to Expect When You See Your Doctor for Erectile Dysfunction.”)


References

  1. “Most Men With ED Don’t Seem to Get Treatment,” WebMD.
    <https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/news/20130506/most-men-with-erectile-dysfunction-dont-seem-to-get-treatment>
  2. Nicholson, Robert. “Comprehensive Study on the Impact of Erectile Dysfunction.” ED Treatment Information Center. March 2018.
    <https://edtreatment.info/ed-impact-study/>
  3. Takeuchi, Yuki; Otsuka, Ryohei; Kojima, Hajime; Fetters, Michael D. “Comparison of self-report and objective measures of male sexual dysfunction in a Japanese primary care setting: a cross-sectional, self-administered mixed methods survey.” UroToday. January 2021.
    <https://www.urotoday.com/recent-abstracts/men-s-health/erectile-dysfunction/127423-comparison-of-self-report-and-objective-measures-of-male-sexual-dysfunction-in-a-japanese-primary-care-setting-a-cross-sectional-self-administered-mixed-methods-survey.html>

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