How to Talk with Your Doctor about Impotence

Doctors see hundreds of patient with problems of sexual dysfunction, so there's no reason to feel nervous or embarrassed about discussing these matters.
Doctors see hundreds of patient with problems of sexual dysfunction, so there’s no reason to feel nervous or embarrassed about discussing these matters.

From a very early age, most males — particularly American males — are taught that it’s considered a sign of weakness to make a big deal out of illnesses or injuries. A real man, we’re taught, simply grins and bears it, whatever “it” may turn out to be.

And when the health concern focuses on something as personal and private as sexual function, men seem instinctively programmed to keep it to themselves. There’s only one serious drawback to this strategy: Keeping it to yourself almost certainly guarantees that the root problem won’t be addressed and the problem almost certainly will get worse and not better as time goes on.

If staying sexually active is important to you, getting help when a problem arises just makes good sense. The longer you put off that visit to the doctor, the more difficult it may become to resolve your problem.

No Need for Embarrassment

For those who are concerned about discussing sensitive personal matters such as erections — or the lack thereof — and sexual activity, it is probably helpful to bear in mind that your doctor has already heard it all before. Rest assured that nothing you have to say is going to shock or embarrass the doctor.

If you’re like most men, the biggest hurdle to getting professional help for erection problems is getting over whatever jitters or reservations you may have about discussing the matter frankly with your doctor. But it is also important to prepare for your meeting with the doctor so that you ensure that all areas of concern are covered. Nothing is worse than driving home from a doctor’s appointment only to realize that you forgot to broach one of your primary concerns about your erection problem.

Supplying your doctor with all relevant information about your medical history can help determine what further tests might be necessary.
Deciding When It’s Time to See the Doctor

Most men experience occasional difficulty getting and keeping an erection, so if this happens to you on an infrequent basis, you’ll have to comfort yourself with the knowledge that you’re not alone and, hopefully, things will go better next time around.

However, according to a posting by the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, you should seriously consider consulting your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of impotence more than 25 percent of the time.

It Could Mean More Serious Health Problems

As if the inability to get an erection were not distressing enough, persistent difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection can sometimes provide an early warning of even more serious health problems. The largest single cause of erection problems is insufficient blood flow to the penis. If your penis isn’t getting enough blood to achieve erection, chances are good that you may eventually face problems associated with diminished blood flow to your heart or brain.

So as unpleasant and frustrating as it may be to have problems getting it up, seeing a doctor promptly about the problem may allow you to make some lifestyle changes that not only restore erectile function but also help avoid a future heart attack or stroke.

Discuss Other Health Problems

If you are visiting your longtime personal physician, his records probably include a comprehensive list of other health problems you have had in the past as well as any that may be ongoing. However, doctors are busy people and cannot be expected to remember everything, nor is there adequate time to fully review your medical history. So if there is anything in your medical history that you feel may have some bearing on your current problems, be sure to bring it up and discuss it fully with your doctor.

If you’ve been remiss and haven’t seen a doctor in some time or have been referred to a specialist, you should bring a list of illnesses, both past and present, for the new doctor to review. Once again, the more the doctor knows about your medical history, the more information he will have to analyze in determining the likely cause of your erection problems.

Tell the Doctor about All Impotence Symptoms

You must be as comprehensive as possible in recounting to the doctor the precise nature of the erection problems you’ve been experiencing. He will need all that information in order to determine how best to treat your symptoms of impotence and what tests should be ordered to pinpoint the exact cause of your problems. In some more complicated cases, your personal physician may think it advisable for you to see a specialist, such as a urologist or psychiatrist, again based on the information you supply.

If you’re like most of us, you sometimes have trouble remembering all the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and the conditions under which the symptoms appear most prevalent. Rather than waste your time — and that of the doctor — make some notes that will help you provide the physician with as complete a picture of your problem as possible.

Tell the Doctor about Any Drugs You May Be Taking

In this age of specialization, your personal physician can sometimes lose track of all the medications — prescription and over-the-counter — that you are taking. He probably will have a fairly reliable list of those that he personally has prescribed for you, but he may not necessarily know all the dietary supplements you take or other medications that have been prescribed by specialists. Because erection problems can often be caused by certain medications, it’s vitally important that you present the doctor with as comprehensive a list as possible. Prepare as complete a list as possible so that you can give it to the doctor or his nurse at the outset of your visit.

For some men with erection problems, a prescription for one of the popular impotence medications will allow them to regain erectile function.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Recreational Drugs

Although you may be hesitant to share with the doctor all your bad habits, glossing over the fact that you drink heavily, smoke two packs a day, and enjoy the occasional toot will only hinder the doctor in evaluating your erection problems. As you may already have found out, having too much alcohol to drink can sometimes put a damper on things, particularly erection-wise. And heavy tobacco use over a lengthy period of time can make it much more difficult to get an erection. As for recreational drugs, each has its own specific adverse effects, so bare your soul and let the doctor know what, if any, such drugs you have taken in the past and, more importantly, any that you continue to use.

List Questions You Want the Doctor to Answer

Despite the fact that erection problems are fairly common among adult males, they probably have not been common for you, so you can be forgiven for feeling a little anxious about your symptoms and what they may mean for the future of your sex life. You’re paying the doctor for his expertise and for his opinions. So don’t hesitate to ask questions about any aspect of this problem that may be bothering you. And if the doctor recommends a specific course of action, such as treatment with impotence drugs, like Viagra or Cialis, you should explore with the doctor any side effects you might experience as well as what results to expect from the drugs.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to mentally retain all the information you need to discuss with the doctor. Many key points could be forgotten during the course of your appointment. For that reason, it just makes good sense to prepare a list of questions you’d like the doctor to answer.

Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of nutrition and health-related topics.

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