I'm all about myth-busting when it comes to sex, sexuality, and sexual health, and some new research into the men who suffer from erectile dysfunction is doing just that. The Superdrug Online Doctor looked at an erectile dysfunction forum to gain insight into who is actually suffering from ED and how it affects them by analyzing the posts and comments. They looked at posts and comments about ED from 3,962 users. So there's a really well-rounded look about how men talk about erectile dysfunction to other men that are struggling.
It's an interesting method to study because you can see firsthand how men are dealing with a tough issue. As the report notes, "for these men, an online forum on the topic can be an invaluable source of advice, encouragement, and commiseration," so it's sort of inside view— a look at the honest struggles behind ED. And some of it was really surprising, from who is actually suffering to the medications they're using to how it affects their life.
The whole report is very in-depth and worth checking out, in part for the fascinating interactive charts with word associations. But here are some of the interesting takeaways about guys with ED:
1. 25 Percent Of Men Diagnosed With ED Are Under The Age Of 40
Perhaps that most shocking fact was that, although we often associate ED with older age, it is definitely affecting younger men, too. Actually, nearly 60 percent of contributors were 24 years old or under, but I think that reflects more the age of people that rely on forums then the proportion of sufferers that are that age. "Though erectile dysfunction is often considered an issue exclusive to older men, ED forum participants are quite young on the whole," Signe Nicklas, a spokesperson for Superdrug Online Doctor, tells Bustle. "This is an issue for men that can be hard to talk about, even to close friends. Younger men are seeking more anonymous methods to voice their problems and see how other men are finding ways to cope
2. There Are A Whole Range Of Penis Problems
While when you're on the end of ED it can seem like a pretty straightforward issue— he can't get it up— in reality the whole issue is way more nuanced than that. There are so many different problems, solutions, and feelings surrounding it. The site explained that "forum participants open up about deep-seated and personal issues: reliance on porn, injuries to the penis, and a plethora of frustrating and mysterious symptoms". It's just not as cut and dry as it looks from a female perspective.
And, when talking about the issue with their penises there were a whole lot of others words, besides just "problems". Other common words were "curved", "injury", "numb", "pump" and a whole lot more. And that's just a tiny sample. Look at them all and realize all the different combinations.
3. Three Drugs Came Up The Most
There was a lot of talk about different medications, how they are prescribed and how effective they are. Viagra had by far the most, with 53.9 percent of mentions, followed by Cialis at 35.5 percent, and Levitra with 10.5 percent.
4. Porn Is A Real Problem...
Like, huge. Basically, there is a whole section called "Mental Health: Anxiety, Performance, and Porn" because when it came to mental health aspects of ED, porn was mentioned 1,850 times. In fact, according to the research "common terms include 'porn' (which is mentioned more than twice as often as second most–common phrase), 'anxiety,' 'issue,' 'psychological,' and 'stress.'.
While porn dependence can sometimes be a cause of ED (one man said “I am in my mid-20s and have had a problem getting and maintaining an erection with sexual partners since my late teens when I first started looking at internet porn"), there is also an issue of watching porn causing unrealistic performance expectation. And then there's all the anxieties and stresses that arise from that. In fact as far as common phrases went: "internet porn", ""performance anxiety", and "watching porn" were all close to the top.
5. But You're Not Alone And There Are Options
One of the best things to come out of this research is to show that ED affects so many people, from varied backgrounds, in varied ways. So your partner shouldn't feel like they're the only one. "What's most important is that men who are having ED-related issues are seeking professional help — and not to be ashamed or afraid to talk about it to their doctor," Nicklas says.
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