As a urological surgeon, the main challenge I see for patients probably isn’t what you’d think it would be.
It’s not a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction or Peyronie’s disease (they can be treated), it’s not the risk of complications from surgery (less than 1%), and it’s not the recovery process (3-6 weeks). It’s actually coming in and making an appointment. Here are some of the most common reasons patients don’t get help.
The Embarrassment Factor
Men in “polite” society tend to not talk about their penises or sex life, and it can be extremely difficult for men to admit that they’re experiencing difficulties with their sexual performance. While prescriptions for erectile dysfunction have helped remove much of the stigma surrounding it, the inability to maintain an erection is still a very personal and a potentially embarrassing problem. This can be made even worse in the event that prescriptions don’t work and surgery may be necessary. Some men would rather suffer in silence than speak candidly with a physician or surgeon.
Talk with your spouse / partner / loved ones and encourage them to seek help and get regular check-ups. Share your experience if you’ve dealt with ED in the past. The discomfort in talking about ED and related issues pales in comparison to being able to lead a fulfilling sex life.
Not Knowing There’s Treatment
Urologic surgery is a highly specialized field that’s advancing all the time. The average person probably isn’t going to be familiar with the treatments that are available to them – even a physician may be working with outdated information.
This is where the internet comes in handy: I (and my colleagues) put as much information online as possible about diagnoses and treatment, including the latest advances and research in urologic surgery. There’s a wealth of information out there about the whole range of men’s health issues and how they can be treated, if not fixed entirely.
A well-informed patient should be able to know their options, and know when to contact a specialist.
Fear of Surgery
Some people are just plain afraid of going into surgery the same way they’re afraid of going to the dentist (like myself): it conjures up gruesome images of being cut open and being put back together again, long and painful recoveries, and the potential risk of complications. This is one of the reasons why awareness of minimally invasive surgery is so vital: most of the surgeries I perform are done through small incisions, and in the case of penile implants, are completed within minutes. Checking out surgical videos on Youtube can go a long way toward alleviating your anxiety.
Don’t let shame or fear keep you from taking care of your health – know your options, the treatment that’s available to you, and most importantly, take the first step by reaching out to a medical professional.