Men with cancer or other chronic illnesses are less likely to seek treatment for erectile dysfunction; even though sexual health is an important aspect of quality of life, researchers say. With a better understanding of the reasons why men do not seek help; doctors could change the way they talk to their patients and help them seek treatment; the authors of a small study conclude in the International Journal of Impotence.
A large proportion of men
Improving our approach could result in a large proportion of men maintaining a satisfactory sexual life; which is an important part of overall wellbeing. Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, but only 10 % of men with erectile issues are typically treated the study team notes. What surprises us the most is the attitude of health professionals toward the sexual problems; of their patients as it seems that a large proportion of doctors; are unwilling to discuss these problems with their patients.
Over the course of a month, Bratus and a coauthor surveyed 500 men who visit their family doctor. The men filled out a questionnaire with just two questions: “Does sexual activity represent an important part of your life at this time of your life?” and “If you ever in your life suffered from erectile dysfunction (impotence).
Overall, the research team found that more than 90 % of the healthy men said sex was an important part of their wellbeing, while about 80 % of men with a mild underlying illness said this and for men with serious illness; it was closer to 70 %. Similarly, close to 90 % of men who healthy or mildly ill said they would seek treatment; for erectile dysfunction; while just 70 % of the seriously ill men said this.
The communication about sex
“Sexual function is important to people but patient-provider communication about sex is often lacking,” said Kathryn Flynn of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who was not involved in the study. Flynn said results similar to the Slovenian study have in the U.S., including the fact that many patients with serious illnesses such as cancer do not discuss sexual problems with their healthcare providers.
In Slovenia, the study authors are developing better ways for oncologists to talk to patients about sexuality; sexual dysfunction. He is also part of a new 26-country European Sexual Medicine Network created by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology funding organization. Their message to men who suffer from erectile dysfunction is that this is just a disease; like any other. “There is no need to ashamed of it, and they strongly advise them to talk about it with their doctors since there are many ways of getting help; improving sexual life.”