What Do We Know about Men’s Sexual Problems?

Do we pretend to know or think we know more about men’s sexual problems than we really do? The results of a recent survey among people attending an International Health Care Exhibition in Italy suggest individuals are out of touch with what’s happening in the sexual lives of men.

Men’s sexual problems: survey

The survey was conducted at Exposanita 2018 and addressed medical and non-medical professionals (most were not physicians). Two surveys were developed, one for each sex, and the questions centered on the subject’s knowledge of the causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), its prevalence, ED as an early sign of coronary heart disease, and/or myocardial infarction, which treatments are available for ED, attitudes toward penile prostheses, and reimbursement of treatments for ED.

A total of 1,094 people who attended the convention participated in the survey. The breakdown was as follows:

  • 495 men, 599 women
  • Mean age, 40.5 years in men and 39.9 years in women
  • 43% worked in health-related professions, and 5.9% were physicians

Overall, the respondents were not very knowledgeable about erectile dysfunction in men. For example:

  • Most respondents thought ED was much more prevalent than it actually is
  • Both men and women believed lifestyle and psychologic factors are the most common causes of ED
  • Most respondents did not believe ED was a possible predictor of cardiovascular problems
  • Oral ED medications were the most recognized treatment for erectile dysfunction (about 78% of respondents)
  • Psychotherapy was the second most known treatment modality
  • About half of male and female respondents said they were willing to choose or support the use of a penile prosthesis to treat severe ED
  • More than three-quarters of respondents said ED treatments should be covered by the National Health Service

Interesting survey findings

Two findings of the survey were of special interest. One was the ready acceptance of a radical treatment approach (penile prosthesis) for men with severe ED who have not responded to conservative treatment.

It also appears the public may not understand the prevalence and consequences of having erectile dysfunction, especially the relationship between ED and the cardiovascular system. Although ED does not always indicate a man has an underlying heart condition, research indicates that men with ED with no obvious cause and who have no symptoms of heart problems should be screened for cardiovascular disease before they begin treatment for ED.

Experts are currently of the opinion that the appearance of ED before heart problems is often caused by the dysfunction of the endothelium (inner lining of the blood vessels) and smooth muscle. This results in poor blood flow to the penis and to the heart.

Bottom line

Erectile dysfunction is a common health challenge, yet the general population does not appear to understand it, especially when it comes to its impact on cardiovascular health. It’s important for all men who are faced with this situation to seek out all the information they can, to consult with a medical and/or counseling expert, and to talk with their partners about the challenge and how it can be resolved together.

References

Mayo Clinic Staff. Erectile dysfunction: A sign of heart disease? Mayo Clinic

Pescatori ES et al. How much do people know about male sexual problems? A survey in a selected population sample. Archivio italiono di urologia andrologia. 2019 Oct 2

UroToday. How much do people know about male sexual problems? A survey in a selected population sample. 2019 Oct 2; 91(3)

by Mens Health Editor

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