What to do when you get erectile dysfunction, according to a sexpert

Keep your end up


You tend to think erectile dysfunction as a condition letting down older men — but research says it can affect a large number of young blokes as well.

Analysis suggests five per cent of all erectile dysfunction sufferers are young men and for most of them, anxiety is the biggest cause of impotence.

You might not want to admit it but what should you do if you find yourself with it? We spoke to veteran sexpert Denise Knowles about getting caught at the soft end of erectile dysfunction.

Denise K

Denise Knowles

Accept it can happen

Denise says the first thing to realise is that it happens sometimes.

“It’s not uncommon for young men every now and again to get erectile dysfunction and/or have problems sustaining an erection.

“One of the difficulties is if you when you start to get anxious about it happening and it almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist if it only happens occasionally.”


If it keeps happening, examine your lifestyle

Sexpert Denise advises to think about what might be causing your impotence if it continues to be a problem.

“If it becomes an ongoing issue — look at your lifestyle. Do you feel tired? Do you drink? Do you smoke? Do you take drugs, recreational or prescription? If you can eliminate some of those you might feel better.

“If you are a young man who only has problems in situ — as in you can masturbate OK but you only have problems having sex, there might be something else that needs exploring.

“It might be anxiety, lack of education or lack of knowledge. Often in my clinic, I talk to young men about what sex means to them, their attitudes towards partners and what it means to be in a relationship.

“It could be a lack of knowledge about their own body and they may not know what turns them on. They might masturbate so vigorously with external stimulation that when it comes to another woman or man, we need to help them become re-sensitised to other people.”

Tired Man Sitting on Bed

Stay away from Viagra

Denise warns against going for a chemical fix and instead seek medical help.

“I wouldn’t suggest anybody just take Viagra without first and foremost speaking to their GP because it may have a placebo effect and you may not have any need to take it.

“It may be a quick fix but it may also become something you become dependent on and it may have side effects.”

Radio 1’s Viagra advice

Viagra comes in the form of little blue, diamond shaped pills. It’s the brand for a drug called Sildenafil Citrate, which can treat a number of blood pressure conditions, but is best known for being prescribed to men who have problems getting an erection. It works by increasing the blood flow to the penis.

Viagra won’t just give you a hard on, you need to be turned on for the drug to work. A single pill takes about half an hour to kick in and lasts for up to four hours.

Viagra should only be used by men.

Some people get short-term side effects like headaches, flushed skin, stomach upsets, blurred vision and achey muscles.

Viagra works by relaxing the muscles in blood vessels so that more blood can pass through them. Anyone with heart problems should avoid drugs that do this as they put more pressure on the heart.


If you have a real problem, consult a professional

Finally Denise recommends seeing a qualified expert if you continue to be impotent.

“If somebody can’t do it, they have to ask themselves how long it has been going on for.

“If you’re becoming increasingly distressed by erectile dysfunction, it might last longer. If there’s an organic or medical problem going on, get that sorted out by seeking help with a GP or a counsellor.

“Early intervention is the best thing to do.”

Denise Knowles is a counsellor for support group Relate