This episode was definitely a sensitive subject to touch on but one that our guest, Andy Barham, dealt with, with grace and humour.
When we started the podcast, the goal was to raise awareness of topics that men are embarrassed to speak about. Erectile Dysfunction is definitely one of those topics.
Andy Barham was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thankfully he caught it early and beat it after having his prostate removed.
However one of the side effects of the operation was erectile dysfunction. While this is a common side effect in the early stages of recovery, Andy found that months went by without getting back to normal.
After trying traditional ED medicine (the “blue pills”) he then progressively had to try more extreme methods to get an erection. The only thing that worked was self-administered injections into the penis.
Understandably, this wasn’t very practical. As he explains, there was no spontaneity with injections – you had to plan well ahead. Andy persevered with this, and has an understanding wife (who is a nurse), however he said that this wouldn’t be an option for someone who was dating.
He also described one particular evening when, after a few drinks, he and his wife felt frisky. However, due to his alcohol intake, his aim was slightly off and ended up injecting his thumb…
Andy then began researching erectile implants. As an engineer by training, Volker was highly interested in the mechanics of the implant, which Andy was more than happy to explain.
The way it works is that you have a third testical or marble sized lump, which pumps a liquid from a reservoir in your abdomen to the implant. Andy says this enables him and his wife to have more spontaneity.
Andy can now last longer, and he would still get an orgasm (although the removal of his prostate means he doesn’t ejaculate). From his opinion it is even more intense, because you last longer, similar to wearing a condom.
David was interested to hear about the psychological aspect of “not being able to perform.” Andy admitted that he had gotten very depressed, which wasn’t something he’d experienced before, even though he had gone through the stress of a marriage break up and other life stresses in the past.
Andy said that a major factor in getting through this process was the support and understanding of his wife.
However it was a slow process, trying different things (each one more extreme than the last) to get an erection. Countless hours of doctor visits, trying new medications and pumps, giving feedback, trying something new.
Nothing prior to this ever pushed him over the edge, and it just shows how much pressure a non-functional ‘friend’ can put on a man!
Whilst it wasn’t uncommon, 1 in 10 people who get their prostate removed, will get erectile dysfunction. However, as it was pointed out, if you are stressed and anxious, it is totally common for men not to be able to perform. And many men we spoke to, have a stash of those little blue pills ‘just in case’ to help them. The more people you speak to, more men admit that they have experience using them.
Once you turn 70, 70% of men have problems with erections. During your 40ies we are looking at 5%. So the older you get, the more likely the “little chap” might need some assistance.
Thankfully, as Andy has discovered there are a range of solutions that help you with it, whether it is the little blue pill, therapy if it is related to stress and anxiety or an implant.
We discussed how men just don’t ‘feel like a man’ if they cannot have sex, and there is a social expectation that you have to have sex on a regular basis. And most couples would, as the average amount of sex is weekly or more. However, if some couples don’t have sex every week, there are others that have sex a lot more often.
We also discussed how it’s also a common expectation that men “are always up for it” which may not be true as we get older.
If you want to find out more about Andy, please reach out to him on LinkedIn or his Coloplast Patient Educator site. He likes helping others in a similar situation. His Book ‘You can stick that up your arse’ can be found on Amazon.