Erectile dysfunction — My story

5 min

My name is Bruce. I was a public servant for 27 years. When I was in my late forties, I set up a gardening business in a bid to marry my interest in golf with horticulture. Despite my best efforts, I never did get a job as a groundsman on a golf course but the business ran for several years regardless. Now I’m 71 and retired. Soon I’ll be celebrating 50 years of marriage.

When I was 57, I was diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED), which is an inability to get or keep an erection during sexual intercourse. While I’m really comfortable talking about this issue now, I’d never discussed it with any other guys. I guess no one wants to admit to it.

My sex life had been a disaster for several years. I was having ‘improper’ erections that weren’t firm. I would ejaculate about a minute into intercourse. This was no good for my wife, and no good for me. I felt like I wasn’t performing, that I was failing her. She thought I no longer found her attractive. But it didn’t have anything to do with her at all.

I’d heard about Viagra on the grapevine and decided to go to my doctor to ask about it.

It was very clear to the GP from the outset that my problem was caused by smoking, which can affect your circulation, including your circulation down there. I had no idea of the link between erectile dysfunction and smoking but he made the connection straight away. If I’d known, I would have gone much earlier.

I’ve since spoken with friends with ED who are younger than me. One had his prostate removed for cancer. The surgery for this often cuts some nerves which causes ED. ED can also be a side effect of some drugs for high blood pressure. The reasons for the problem can be different for different blokes.

In my case, I’d been smoking for 37 years. I’d never considered giving up before because I thought I was too addicted. But once I made the connection, I said to myself that if I’m going to fix this problem, the smoking’s got to go.

My GP put me onto a drug called Zyban which is acts like a mind bending drug that gets you to a stage where you don’t want to have cigarettes. It can have some side-effects so it’s not for everyone. In my case it worked – I gave up smoking within seven days.

At the same time, my GP put me on Viagra. This worked very well, with minimal side effects. When on it, some people can get a bit of a headache, or feel a little flushed. After a time, I tried other drugs for erectile dysfunction called Cialis and Levitra. All three worked well, but after some years, they began not to work at all.

When I went back to my GP to see what my options were, he referred me to a urologist. When I met with the urologist about my problem, he said he had seen a lot of blokes from my golf club for the exact same issue! It made me realise how common it is.

I asked about other treatments I’d researched on the internet, like a pellet that you put into the tip of the penis. He said that was ‘’old hat, like putting soap in there’’.

He recommended I try intracavernosal injections. They involve horizontally injecting a compound drug with a very fine needle into the base of the penis. I thought it was worth giving a go.

A nurse demonstrated the procedure in the specialist’s rooms the first time. It didn’t hurt. Once you’re shown how to do it, you do it yourself at home. There are some helpful videos online. You inject prior to intercourse and the effects last for about four hours. I’ve been successfully doing it for three years now and haven’t experienced any side effects.

What I would say to other men is that if you are having the same problem, the first step is to go and speak to your GP to get the ball rolling. This isn’t something to be scared of. While I was initially a bit embarrassed, doing something about it has been worth it. It’s restored my confidence and really helped my relationship. I only wish I’d done it earlier.


Erectile dysfunction
Mental health
Seeing the GP

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