ERECTION PROBLEMS - HER VIEW

It’s mid-morning in Muriwai, a west coast community 50 kilometers from Auckland and I’m already wishing I hadn’t made the drive. In a converted garage packed with exercise equipment, the constant bark of “you can do it, Jono!” is all I hear. That and my own rasping breath. What was meant as a fact-finding mission to better understand what women think about men with erectile dysfunction (ED) has evolved into a life or death cross-fit battle I’m about to lose. The four women I’m training with are having no such trouble. Clad head to toe in active wear, I hope they’re as enthusiastic about discussing erection problems as they are doing push-ups

“So if your man had ED, how would you feel?” I ask Ashley, a 30 something working mum peddling madly beside me on an exer-cycle.

“Obviously it would be a bit of a shock at first”, she says. ”And maybe I’d wonder if it was me that was the problem. But I’d probably focus more on getting things sorted rather than playing the blame game”.

It’s a refreshing response, but probably not that surprising. In the time I’ve been researching all things erectile, a common male belief is that partners can’t help a whole lot anyway.

“So you’d just want to get to the source of the problem”, I ask.

“Exactly”, says Ashley, “I’d just like him to be hard again”. A sly grins spreads across her face. Mine meanwhile, turns beetroot red. At least she’s being honest.

“I can imagine some men would think it was the end of the world”, says Ginny, who I’ve joined on the rowing machines. “And so I think it would be really good if people could just normalise it and treat it like any other medical problem”.

Ginny’s got the right idea, and probably more so than a lot men I’ve spoken to. ED is a medical condition like any other, and often the result of common underlying health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, anxiety, depression and even some types of medications. These conditions being so widespread is perhaps the reason it’s estimated around 300,000 kiwi men experience some form of ED.

So you seem quite informed”, I ask Ginny. “How do you know so much?

Ginny takes a moment, collecting her thoughts.

”Yep, I’ve experienced it”, she says a little sheepishly. ”The first time I thought it was too many drinks and then the second time I was like ‘no, there is actually an issue here’. You’re expecting something to happen and it doesn’t and then you’re like ‘ok’ and then we just never talked about it.

“What happened then?”, I ask, hoping I’m not overstepping the mark. Ginny looks me straight in the eye before responding.

“The relationship went south after that. Maybe if we’d talked about things it would have been different.”

I decide not to press home the point that it’s vital to keep lines of communication open with your partner. It would appear Ginny’s already learnt that the hard way.

Meg on the other hand, a 40 something mother of three, has no problem taking a more direct approach.

“I’d just go see someone that knows what’s going on”, she says, ”like a doctor or those pharmacists that can prescribe a treatment. So at least you know what the problem is. I’d go with him too if it helped”.

By the time we’re all rolling tires up and down the carpark, things are becoming clear. The support is there if men want it. But what if ‘additional help’ was required?

“If their man had ED’, I ask, breathless, “who would be cool with them having Viagra®?”.

“Me!”, they blurt out in unison and I’m surprised at the eagerness. It appears the ‘little blue pill’ has still got it.

“I think there’s always been a stigma around it” says Ashley, “like it’s something bad or for old people but really it’s for everyday people”.

“Because it probably is just like another pill”, chimes Leah the instructor.

By the time the session is over, I’m physically drained, but in good spirits. From what I’ve gleaned, these women aren’t the type to point fingers or hope the problem might sort itself out on its own. They’re more than happy to discuss ED and be involved in the treatment process if that’s what it took. As I drive back to Auckland I wonder if the bigger challenge lies in getting men to accept that help in the first place.

Learn more about erection difficulties and how Viagra® can help, on our site now.

1. Quilter M. et al. J Sex Med 2017;7:928 - 936; PP-VIA-NZL-0103; TAPS NA11981