Professor Christopher Chapple
Secretary General, European Association of Urology (EAU)
A survey conducted as part of Urology Week 2020 shows that awareness of erectile dysfunction (ED) is alarmingly low in men and women aged 20 to 70. The majority of the respondents do not know what ED exactly entails, and one in four has never heard of any treatments for ED.
The survey examined the knowledge of and experience with ED of 3,032 men and women of different age groups between 20 and 70 years old in Spain, France, Germany, and the UK. When asked what ED is, the majority of the respondents either gave incorrect answers (34%) or stated they do not know what ED is (17%).
“As ED is actually a common male medical condition, it is surprising that a majority does not know what ED is,” comments Prof. Christopher Chapple, Secretary General of the European Association of Urology (EAU).
Indeed, the EAU Guidelines 2020 on Sexual and Reproductive Health state: “epidemiological data have shown a high prevalence and incidence of ED worldwide.”
“The risk of having ED increases with age, but it affects men of all ages and ethnicities,” Prof. Chapple continues. “As a result, there shouldn’t be any taboo against it. Although I am happy to see that the majority of the respondents who have experience with ED say to talk about it, there is still room for improvement.”
I understand that ED (erectile dysfunction) is regarded as a private matter. But this should not prevent people from addressing this issue and improving their quality of life.
Communication is the key to breaking down the taboo
Of the 17% of the respondents who themselves have ED or have a partner with the condition, approximately one in four (26%) admitted to not talking about it with anyone. Worrisome is that, of those in a relationship, only 29% talk to each other about ED. German respondents most often gave, “feeling uncomfortable to talk about ED,” as the reason for not seeking professional help.
“Clearly, ED is a common medical condition. There’s absolutely no need for shame,” Prof. Chapple emphasises. “As urologists, we need to display that attitude by communicating openly. The patient needs to know that ED is common and that shame about it is understandable but unnecessary. Communication is the key to breaking the taboo.”
One in four respondents has never heard of any treatments
Prof. Chapple refers to another alarming outcome; one in four of the respondents (26%) has never heard of any of the seven treatments for ED listed in the survey: medication, sexual education and relationship therapy, a vacuum erection device, penile injections, penile implants, shockwave therapy, and topical therapies. Knowledge about ED treatment is most limited in the UK; 31% have never heard of any of the treatments listed and only 50% think ED is treatable.
Prof. Chapple says “I understand that ED is regarded as a private matter. But this should not prevent people from addressing this issue and improving their quality of life. We need to increase the public awareness and knowledge about ED. It is a common medical condition that is treatable, nothing more than that. That stigma surrounding ED has to be removed, and we all have a role in developing that mindset. Urology Week is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of this.”