Stirling Moss is just like any other bloke
Pele, the world's greatest ever footballer, has talked about it and now Britain's motor-racing legend Stirling Moss has joined in the discussion. We're talking about problems getting an erection.
The medical jargon is erectile dysfunction or ED. It can affect you at any time, at any age although it is more likely as you get older. Given that more than half of men over the age of 40 experience some form of ED, it's nearly as common as the cold. But it's still very difficult to talk about.
Stirling Moss, who clocked -up over 200 wins in his Grand Prix career, and his wife Susan Moss recently took part in a question and answer session with other men who have ED.
Q uestion: For years I have suffered from being unable to get an erection with women and it has destroyed my sex life as a result. I am unable to confront my doctor as it would be proof of 'my failure'. Is there anyone I could approach rather than my GP?
Stirling: If you can't take your partner to see the doctor then who is going to think you are a failure? The doctor is there to help you. The first thing you must do is not look upon yourself as a failure. The doctor certainly won't. If you need help, which you say you do the doctor is there to help you.
Susan: The vast majority of erectile problems are physical - and that's not anyone's failure. You wouldn't think yourself a failure if you had a broken leg, so don't think there's anything wrong with you because you have erectile disfunction. Go to the doctor and get it sorted!
Is ED the real problem?
Q uestion: If an erection is powered by the feelings you have for your partner maybe it's the partner and not the penis... so, how do you know whether you have an erectile problem or relationship problem?
Susan: If you're having erections at all then it may be a relationship problem. But I would advise two things: First have a check-up anyway just in case. Second, have a long hard think about whether you do feel bad about your partner - if you do, it may be time for counselling. Log onto www.relate.org.uk to see what services are offered in your area.
Stirling: If you can get an erection with your partner you have no problem provided you can sustain it. If, on the other hand you cannot get an erection even though you feel sexy then you should seek advice. Remember one thing, I don't know of any drugs that will give you an erection without you wishing for one.
ED and diabetes
Q uestion: Stirling, I was wondering if you had any advice that you could give me about bringing up the subject of erection problems with my husband. We have been married for 35 years and I just don't know how to start the conversation. It is only a recent problem since he was diagnosed with diabetes in the last two years.
Stirling: I hope that you are as close to your husband as I am to my wife and you will find it far easier to discuss it together. There's nothing to be ashamed of in taking medical advice because whatever he offers you it still requires a catalyst of shared sexual feeling. On re-reading your email I have realised that maybe your husband is suffering the problem without involving you. I suggest you ask him if he is having problems because you have heard that diabetes is a likely cause of not being able to get erect when he wants to.
Susan: How to start the conversation? Start with 'I love you'. What your husband needs to know is that you still care for him despite the fact that he has an erectile difficulty. Once he knows that, and knows that he still is as much of a man to you, then you can help him go back to his doctor and get help. When he does this, the easiest way in may be to start with the diabetes - most doctors will be aware that erectile dysfunction is a common side-effect; that should avoid embarrassment. There's lots of support available for you to get your sex life back!
Joking makes its worse
Q uestion: I've had a few problems recently with getting sexually aroused. My girlfriend is very supportive and tries to make a joke out of it to ease the tension. Unfortunately this makes it worse. How can I tell her without offending her?
Susan: It's great that your girlfriend is so supportive - she obviously wants to help. So give her the chance to help as much as she wants to, by telling her the sort of support you really need. If you can open up to her about what you are thinking and feeling, that will start a really useful conversation. And then you can start discussing what's causing the problems you talk about. Remember that erection difficulties can be a sign of underlying medical problems, so don't hold back from getting medical advice.
Stirling: Having a girlfriend who is supportive is the first thing. I think the second should be taking her with you to see the doctor so he can explain all the various medical options that are open to you.
Stress reduces intimacy
Q uestion: I've got a very stressful job and find it hard to be intimate with my wife. But I still get sexually aroused - just not always at the right times. Is the problem in my head?
Susan: Without knowing all the details, I don't know whether the problem is all in your head. In any case, stress is a medical issue as well as a psychological one. My advice would be two-fold - go for a check up, but also look at the psychological side of your work / life balance. If your job is very stressful, it's possible that you simply aren't prioritising sex. My suggestion is that you diarise it! May sound cold hearted, but in a busy life, you sometimes need to carve out time for pleasure.
Stirling: I think one thing you've got to consider is how best to get your wife into a romantic mood; probably as you did when you were courting her. She may feel more like a chattel than your lover. Give her a nice drink, chat her up and make her feel special. It should work.
Men's magazines to blame?
Q uestion: Do you think articles in men's magazines about being a great lover put more pressure on men leading to more cases of sexual dysfunction or do you think they have a more positive effect?
Stirling: I guess it matters what men's magazines you are referring to and what their content is. If you are referring to sexual magazines I don't think these are likely to help you much in your private life. Whether you are a good lover or not, I think depends an enormous amount on your partner. If you have the right partner you should be a good lover, otherwise find another partner. The chase is often better than the kill!
Susan: I feel really strongly about this! Where men's magazines give accurate information or help the genders understand each other, they do a good job. Where they perpetuate myth - such as a real man has an erection all the time, forever - then they do real harm. Ignore any magazines that tell you to be SUPERMAN - and read the ones that make you a better lover.
'No effect on masculinity'
Q uestion: We have seen you publically discussing this issue. Why is it famous sportspeople are used to front campaigns for erection difficulties?
Stirling: I presume it is because sportsmen are widely considered to be macho. It isn't necessarily true - I was very happy to stand up and be counted because in no way did I feel that it affected my masculinity. I like to hope that my being connected with SortED in 10 (the ED website supported by Bayer healthcare, the manufacturers of the ED drug Levitra) and one of the important treatments to help with erectile dysfunction has got through to people who might not have listened to Joe Bloggs.
Lack of spontaneity
Question: My doctor suggested Viagra for my ED. Although it has helped with performance, the lack of spontenaity is an issue. I find I need to take it, not one, but several hours before intercourse.
Susan: Don't panic! There are different medications available for erectile dysfunction - and one size does not suit all! In other words, if you haven't had good results with one medication, go back to your doctor and discuss alternatives. In particular, if spontaneity is what you need, Levitra might help you and there is also Cialis.
Q uestion: I've had erection difficulties in the past but I feel that I'm now over them. I can get an erection but am worried that I won't be able to maintain it. The only way to find out is to give it a go but that brings on anxiety. It's bit of a vicious circle; what can I do?
Stirling: Find a sympathetic, attractive partner that you can share with and go and see your doctor. If she is a kind person she should keep you from being anxious and the vicious circle will not begin.
Susan: Another suggestion - you may not like this one but it will work - is to take the pressure off completely by deciding not to try for an erection at all for, say, the next week! By not needing to perform, you will find it easier to perform. So for the next ten days or so, just play. Kiss, cuddle, get aroused, do everything you want to... and just see what happens. By taking the pressure off, you will break out of the vicious circle.
Pressure to perform
Q uestion: I'm dreading Valentine's night as I will be expected to perform. I have no problem achieving an erection but it's doing it to order that creates the tension. Can you help?
Susan: "Expected to perform"... "Doing it to order"? No wonder you are tense! Please don't fall into the trap of feeling you have to have an erection - because if that's the case, you probably won't have one. Enjoy Valentine's night with lots of kisses and cuddles but don't push yourself to have intercourse. And very soon, it might be time to look at what's happening in your relationship. If your partner really is pressuring you to make love, when you don't want to, you need to talk about that.
ED following prostate operation
Q uestion: Since having a radical prostectomy almost 4 years ago, I have been unable to experience an unassisted erection. I use a vacuum pump successfully but it appears artificial. Can you suggest anything that might bring a result?
Susan: Yes I can suggest something. There are tablets that can help, even after your radical prostectomy. Go straight back to your doctor and rediscuss the problem.
Stirling: I had the same radical prostectomy five years ago and was lucky enough to find a couple of treatments. By trial I have found one that suited me best. I suggest you speak to your doctor and do likewise.
- There's nothing more macho than being a motor racing driver and if Stirling can talk about it without being less of a man, so can you. There's more on erectile dysfunction on malehealth and also the latest on treatments for ED. If you ignore ED, it is not just your sex life that may suffer. ED is often a symptom of another disease like diabetes or heart problems. That's why it's doubly important to get yourself checked out.
- This discussion originally took place on Webchats. Big thanks to them for permission to republish it.
Page created on April 1st, 2005
Page updated on January 14th, 2010