Erectile dysfunction is not uncommon. But shame about seeking medical help means most men needlessly suffer in silence. For those willing to see a doctor, effective treatment is available from urology specialists.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. This can be devastating to a man’s sex life and self-esteem. It can be a direct result of a physical issue, but often goes deeper than merely being a physical side-effect of another medical condition.

Erectile dysfunction can affect a man’s self-esteem and relationships.

Historically, men were expected to be successful providers, reliable protectors and good sexual partners. Such assumptions may cause stress, poor lifestyle choices and performance anxiety, which all contribute to erectile dysfunction, among other factors. Added to this is the fact that most men feel a need to protect their ego, making this medical condition difficult to address. “We don’t know exactly how common it is,” says Dr Karlheinz Jehle, a urologist at Mediclinic Cape Town. “Unfortunately, many if not most men, never seek help.”  

Why am I unable to get an erection?

While the causes are mainly a result of a man’s lifestyle, it’s important to know this is not the only cause of weak erections. The reasons for erectile dysfunction can be physical and emotional:


– Heart disease
– High cholesterol
– High blood pressure
– Diabetes
– Obesity
– Tobacco and drug use, as well as alcoholism
– Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
– Treatments for prostate cancer
– Parkinson’s disease
– Multiple sclerosis
– Sleep disorders.


– Stress
– Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
– Relationship problems caused by poor communication.

What help is available?

Urology specialists are doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of the male reproductive system, including erectile dysfunction. As Dr Jehle explains, a range of very effective options is available to treat weak erection:

Medications such as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, which include:
– Sildenafil (Viagra)
– Tadalafil (Cialis)
– Vardenafil (Levitra)
– Testosterone replacement
– Lifestyle modifications, such as exercise and dietary changes
– Psychological intervention
– Education
– Partner involvement through communicating your needs and how they can be met
– Devices, such as vacuum pumps.

You can receive treatment using an interdisciplinary approach, which may include a urologist, psychologist, and even couples counselling, along with necessary lifestyle changes. Through treatment, the causes of erectile dysfunction can be addressed and sometimes even reversed.

Effective treatment can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

Break the stigma now

It’s understandable that men are reluctant to seek medical assistance for sexual functioning, including weak erections. However, receiving the correct treatment can improve mental and physical wellbeing, as well as your quality of life. Urology specialists are trained to deal with issues like weak erections and the adverse consequences affecting a man’s life and relationships. So, man up and seek help if you’re struggling. An honest conversation with your doctor is the first step in breaking the stigma.

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