Back in December our founders Angus and Xander joined BBC Radio London presenters Salma El-Wardany and Rhael LionHeart for their weekly episode of “Pillow Talk” – the series that centers on sex and all things related. The show explored why we still think of erection issues as an old man’s problem and what we can do to change that.
Rhael wasted no time in kicking things off by admitting that he would find it hard to speak to his friends or family members regarding anything as personal as erectile dysfunction. This reflects a common sentiment experienced by men when they are having such issues. It is not surprising then that 75% of men with erectile dysfunction remain untreated.
Millions of men in the UK are struggling to be open and honest about what they are going through, especially when it comes to problems in the bedroom. Which can ultimately make them worse.
A couple of years ago the erection medication market boomed as pills like viagra became non prescription and more readily available. The conversation surrounding erectile dysfunction was opening up but not in the right way…
35% of young men have issues by the age of 30 – back in the 90s this figure was below 5%. Evidently, men’s physiology has not changed so the issue has to be something psychological.
It was so interesting to hear Rhael talk about how he felt that often men are ridiculed for not being able to get it up which can really dismantle a man’s confidence. It’s true, nowadays, we regard our performance in the bedroom as a reflection of who we are. If you can’t get it up then there is clearly something wrong with you, or perhaps your partner – right? Wrong. There is nothing wrong with you.
The show turned into a bit of a myth busting session with Xander pointing out that people, even now, tend to assume that it’s only old men that struggle, when clearly this is not the case. It depends what you deem as old but the fact is 40% of men under 40 have experienced problems getting it up.
We like to think even calling it a ‘dysfunction’ is a myth. The word implies that there is something innately wrong with your penis, when this is often not the case. Usually it is a symptom of something else that may be going on in your life. This may be as simple as stress – general anxiety, even at a low level in your day to day life can leave your body in a constant state of fight or flight. It is impossible to get an erection if this is the case. The Performance Anxiety section of our platform helps men to deal with this pressure in the moment and get back to a state that actually allows their body to get an erection.
* The Performance Anxiety section is led by Dr Roberta Babb Clinical Psychologist & Psychotherpist.
In the show Salma went on to enquire about the role of partners in sex, afterall, sex is a two-way or as many way street as you would like it to be, and partners can play a huge role. It is important to remember that another’s struggle is not a reflection of you or how they feel about you. There is so much more to it but it is easy to make assumptions. If you can it is far better to talk to your partner about it, being open and honest about how it makes you feel and your concerns could be enough to resolve it.
There were some big hitting questions from Rhael. We are not taught how to deal with erection issues, so how can we prepare for them? He thinks that perhaps if he had known more about how sex can go wrong then, maybe men would be more inclined to open up to others when they are struggling.
Sex education for young people is totally focused on avoiding STIs and pregnancy. The narrative is so poor, with no mention of pleasure or the fact things might not always work, that erection issues can seem totally devastating to a young man. This is why at Mojo Men we are working towards igniting these conversations surrounding sex and all that comes with it. Getting men to be more open is the first step. Far too many keep these things to themselves.
Why are we so unwilling to be vulnerable or accept help? Get ready for a buzzword: as a society we still struggle with toxic masculinity. This extends far beyond erectile dysfunction and we have to learn that there is strength in being open and vulnerable. Check out our section on Communication and Intimacy where Ben Bidwell will talk you through how to open up about sexual anxieties.
* Ben Bidwell – The Naked Professor.