(ED) can be an early warning sign for other potentially serious health problems, which is one of the reasons why it's recommended that you talk with your doctor if you're experiencing erection problems
. The good news is that ED is one of the few sexual issues doctors likely have some training on. The bad news is that even if they
are more comfortable talking about erectile dysfunction, you may not be. Below are some tips on preparing for, and talking to your doctor about erectile dysfunction.
Time Required: Unfortunately the amount of time you have with your doctor likely isn't up to you.
- Take Notes Beforehand
The more information you can provide your doctor the better they'll be able to ask questions and help figure out what might be going on. Once you notice a problem start keeping track of how often you're having problems. Describe the kinds of erections you have (e.g. non-existent, semi-hard, inconsistently firm), what's your general stress level, are there specific events like conflict at work or with partners or family members that happen prior to you having difficulty getting an erection. Your erections happen in the context of your life, and the more detailed a picture you can paint for your doctor the better.
- They've Heard It Before
Because erectile dysfunction is common, and because there are many treatments available, most doctors who have been practicing for at least a few years will have treated patients with ED. Starting the conversation, telling your doctor why you're there, can feel scary. But if it helps, remember that they've heard it before, and just as with any other health concern, it's their job to address it.
- Consider Practicing
For some people it helps to practice the first conversation. Even saying to yourself out loud "I want to talk to you about problems with my erections" - or whatever words you want to use - may may it easier for you to start the conversation in the office. Think about what you want to say, and also what information you want to know. If you have a friend you trust, you can also talk with them as a way of practicing. If that feels too risky, you may want to ask a question on an erectile dysfunction forum where you can be anonymous.
- The Discomfort (May Not Be) All Yours
Medical doctors receive very little training about human sexuality. And they get even less training on how to talk about sex with patients. It is entirely possible that your doctor will be uncomfortable talking about sex. If they are professional they'll try to cover up their discomfort, and that's appropriate. But if you're feeling bad because you think you "shouldn't" be uncomfortable or embarrassed, give yourself a break. None of us are encouraged to talk about sexual difficulties, doing so is tough, but it's also a sign of you taking care of yourself, and something you can feel proud about.
- Write Your Questions Down
Depending on the health care you have access to, you probably won't have a lot of time with your doctor. If ED is a subject that makes you nervous or uncomfortable, it's possible that once you get it out you'll be so relieved that you'll forget questions you have, and/or you won't remember what your doctor tells you in response to your questions. It's a good idea to come with some questions written down. That way if you lose track, you can refer to your list of questions. And consider making notes as your doctor is talking to you, so you'll remember what they have told you.
- If you're not sure what to say, or what to ask, here are some areas you may want to cover (and some links for you to do research on your own.
- What's the difference between a problem with an erection and erectly dysfunction? What defines erectile dysfunction? Read more: Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction ; Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence?
- What might be creating the problem, what will your doctor look for in your body? Read more: Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- Can the problem be fixed? What are the options? Read more: Erectile Dysfunction Treatments ; Erectile Dysfunction Cure
- How common is erectile dysfunction? What puts me at risk for ED? Read more: Erectile Dysfunction Prevalence and Risk Factors