You’ve probably heard about erectile malfunction.
That’s because it’s a rare, but debilitating condition that affects roughly one in every four men in the US.
And the signs are pretty clear.
You’ve had some pain or stiffness, and you’re not sure how long you’ve been having it.
But when it comes time to do a test to diagnose your condition, you might not even know that you have the condition.
“That’s a huge hurdle that’s preventing doctors from understanding what is going on in men’s sexual health,” says Dr. James M. O’Connor, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics and gynecologic surgery at Yale School of Medicine.
The problem is that most men with erectile problems don’t seek out a medical evaluation.
“If you’re a man with erectilia, you probably don’t need a doctor,” says O’Conner.
That means many men with this condition can’t be told that they’re having trouble having an erection because their partner won’t be able to tell them to stop.
That puts a strain on their relationships.
Some men may not even be aware that they have the disease.
But O’Connell says that’s an unfortunate reality, because it could save their partners lives.
“It’s a double-edged sword because we want to make sure that people with these disorders get the help they need,” he says.
A man with the condition, also known as an erectile dystonia, also called dystonic orgasm, is more likely to have other medical problems like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
The condition affects roughly a quarter of American men.
In some cases, it’s caused by a genetic mutation.
And it can also be caused by certain medications, like prescription anti-depressants or antidepressants.
So it’s important that doctors understand the condition so they can provide appropriate care.
And in the U.S., there are plenty of programs that offer erectile testing, or EFT, to help people who don’t want to seek out one.
“You don’t have to have this condition,” says Michael H. Bouchard, an associate professor of obstetrology and gynecolontology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the medical director of EFT for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“The condition is not an exclusion, it can be an advantage.”
In addition to EFT programs, there are medical societies that offer EFT exams to men.
But these programs are not always recognized and are usually run by medical professionals who are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition and its treatment.
And these programs don’t always have access to the full medical literature.
“Some physicians may be unaware of the medical literature,” says Bouchards colleague, Dr. Richard F. Davis, MD, an assistant professor of surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
But the National Institute of Mental Health has released guidelines for EFT exam providers, including the recommendations of its own Sexual Health Program.
Those guidelines say that EFT should be a regular part of the care of patients with erectiles problems, but not the sole focus.
“I think it’s the right approach,” says Davis.
For now, he says, most physicians can’t afford to pay for ECT or ECT-assisted sexual therapies.
“What we can say is that ECT is an option for a very small proportion of men,” he adds.
And there are other options out there.
Some of these therapies are available through insurance companies, like in the case of erectile restoration or vasectomy.
Others are not covered by health insurance, but can be purchased through Medicare.
“There are people who are paying out of pocket for these kinds of things,” says Robert L. Balsamo, MD.
“But they can’t get the surgery, or the treatments, or they don’t feel like they need them.”
And of course, there’s no guarantee that a physician or an EFT program will treat a condition that’s not their own.
In fact, some providers will reject a patient’s EFT if it doesn’t fit their existing practice.
But for many, the decision to use an ECT procedure is more about their own self-discovery than it is about cost.
“As a physician, if I were to go to a doctor who was doing ECT and said, ‘I’m going to be a provider of ECT in the next five years, can I just do it as a doctor, or can I do it for free?’
They’d say, ‘No, you have to go out and get the procedure,'” says Balsamos friend, Drs.
Matthew M. Gennaro and Christopher P. Vigliaro.
“So I would have to take a gamble.”
Dr. Robert B