Although Viagra is a fairly recent invention, erectile dysfunction is a problem men have faced for over a thousand years. In the 8th century, men of Ancient Rome and Greece wore talismans of rooster and goat genitalia, in a misguided belief that they would help out in the bedroom!
Despite this long history, ED is still a subject surrounded by myths and misconceptions. This may be due to the fact that it’s rarely discussed – men are unlikely to bring it up in conversation with their friends.
To help separate the fact from the fiction, we’ve sought out the most prevalent myths, in a bid to bust them wide open!
Myth 1: You don’t have ED if you can get an erection
The definition of erectile dysfunction is not the same for every man, but it is usually defined as the inability to get and maintain erection that’s satisfying enough for sex.
However, this can manifest in different ways – some guys may have problems getting erections in the first place, while others will have difficulty maintaining an erection that lasts long enough. Some men may get an erection, but it won’t be hard enough to allow them to penetrate during sex.
Simply put – if a guy can get an erection, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he has no problems with erectile dysfunction.
Myth 2: Erectile dysfunction only affects older guys
Although it’s true that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction increases with age, that doesn’t mean younger men can’t be affected by it.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that ED is more common among younger men than you might think. Researchers found that ED affected 26 percent of adult men under 40. Almost half of these young men had severe ED, while only 40 percent of older men with ED had severe ED.
The bottom line is that erectile dysfunction affects men of all ages – you’re not immune if you’re under 40!
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Myth 3: If you struggle in the bedroom once, you have ED
Very few of us are lucky enough to be a consistent Adonis in the bedroom. If you have an off night, it is usually nothing to worry about.
The NHS advises that most men occasionally fail to get or keep an erection. This can be caused by stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much alcohol. So if you have a bit of a bedroom wobble after a long week, or after a few beers, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if you notice issues that last three months or longer, there may be a more chronic issue at play. Get an appointment with your doctor to find out what’s happening.
Myth 4: Your penis is broken
Your erection – or lack of – is rarely a result of a physical problem with the penis. Erectile dysfunction can actually alert you to underlying medical problems throughout your body.
For example, conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your blood vessels, impeding blood flow to your penis.
Problems with your erection can also signal diabetes, low testosterone, or clinical depression. So if you’re noticing problems down below, it’s important you don’t brush them off – pop in to see your GP
Myth 5: It’s all in your head
There’s also a common misconception that all erection problems have a psychological cause – but that’s not the case. Your ED may have a physical cause, which is usually a problem with your blood vessels that hampers blood flow to your penis.
However, it can be true that the more you stress about your problem, the more your brain can play a role in making an erection more difficult.
Before you decide to meet with your doctor, try to keep a log of when your problems occur. That will help your GP determine what’s driving your ED—and figure out the best way to treat it.