Skip Navigation
News and Publications
 
 
 
In This Section      
Print This Page

Johns Hopkins Health - Not Just a Man's Issue

Summer 2010
Issue No. 9

Not Just a Man's Issue

Date: July 20, 2010

couple

It is estimated that about 18 million men older than 20 have erectile dysfunction, which means there are millions of women who probably also struggle with this common condition in their partners.

It is estimated that about 18 million men older than 20 have erectile dysfunction, which means there are millions of women who probably also struggle with this common condition in their partners.

“It affects both,” says urologist Arthur Burnett, M.D. “What we’ve learned, though, is that women can play a key role in the recognition and successful treatment of ED.”

Much of that success is tied to open communication: identifying the problem, understanding what’s causing it-and what’s not-learning what treatments are available and determining which ones work best for both partners.

“The first step is certainly opening up about it,” Burnett says. “And then it’s important to understand that there’s a physiological reason for ED.”

In the past, people thought ED was solely an emotional issue. But the roots of the dysfunction are more complicated than that. It can be a warning sign of another condition, including cardiovascular disease, or related to health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease or high blood pressure. ED can also be a side effect of some medications.

“What happens, though, is that when a man has ED, he may experience psychological issues such as anxiety or depression,” Burnett says. On the other side, many women—especially older women—may take it personally and believe they’re part of the problem.

Women who understand more about the underlying reasons for ED and who can encourage their partners to talk about it make the chances for successful treatment much greater. More important, they may also be key to identifying a more serious medical condition.

“That’s the next step-getting an evaluation to discover what’s causing it and then moving toward treatment,” Burnett says. Oral medications don’t work for everyone, and doctors will try lifestyle changes or other therapies first.

Eventually, medication may be prescribed or other options explored-including devices, injections or surgery. It comes down to both partners being active in the treatment process so that they are comfortable with their decisions.

“Women have a valuable role in making that happen,” Burnett says.

Did You Know?
Erectile dysfunction affects about one in 10 men, and up to half of men older than 50.
Cycling is linked to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes, high blood pressure and cardio-vascular disease increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Talking about erectile dysfunction is a good first step toward treatment. To learn about ED and other urological conditions, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/urology. Or call 877-546-1872 for appointments and consultations.

Related Content

Find Physicians Specializing In...

© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy and Disclaimer