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Erectile dysfunction can be an embarrassing thing to try to discuss with a stranger, even if it’s a trained medical professional who understands the causes and has seen and heard it all before.

However, the alternatives are even more likely to cause lasting embarrassment. This is commonly true for men who will suffer repeated feelings of humiliation, failure and frustration in the bedroom as they struggle with the condition. But few things can be more embarrassing than needing surgery after a botched attempt at a DIY solution. Just such an attempt was made by a man whose case was originally logged in the November edition of Urology Case Reports, although it is only this month that the case has gained wider media attention.

In this instance, a man and his partner – location and identity thankfully unknown – tried to solve his impotence issue in a novel way. While a smarter individual might have tried a solution like buying cheap sildenafil online, he tried to use a straw that was attached to a can of insulation foam.

The 45-year-old had been inserting various objects into his urethra for weeks in an attempt to provide some support for his weak erections, but on this occasion, things went horribly wrong. The man’s partner had not intended to actually press down on the canister, but this almost inevitable accident took place, squirting out a jet of foam.

Consequently, the foam became lodged deep in his bladder and urethra, bringing great discomfort and a high risk of infection.

Having passed blood in his urine, the man finally sought medical attention, with surgery being required to remove the foam, which had hardened.

It is safe to say the man in question will probably now be rethinking his approach to erectile issues once further surgery has been undertaken to fix the rest of the damage, although the Daily Mail report stating that he “may never be able to use his penis again” might be a bit excessive.

At the heart of the issue is the reality that many men are just too reluctant to seek help, even though the condition is not even a remotely rare one. Indeed, there are reasons to think it may become even more common due to factors such as rising obesity levels and Covid. In the latter case, many studies have linked erectile dysfunction with Long Covid, due to the inflammation, it can inflict on blood vessels, restricting blood flow.

Smoking can also be associated with erectile dysfunction and while the number of smokers in the UK and other western nations has been falling for many years, new studies have indicated one of the most popular current means of breaking the habit – vaping – may not be a solution to this particular problem.

A study by the University of New York has found those who use e-cigarettes are more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction than those who do not. Study lead author Omar El Shahawy commented: “We need to fully investigate the relationship between vaping products and erectile dysfunction, and thus better understand the potential implications for men’s sexual health.”

With so many causes leading to a common problem, the sensible thing to do is seek professional help, as the alternatives could literally leave you foaming.