The charity Men’s Health Forum ran its annual campaign from 14-21 June this year, in the run-up to Father’s Day on Sunday 20 June. The purpose of the campaign is to promote a practical boost to mental wellbeing, as well as encouraging men to open up and talk about their health.

According to the charity, many men suffer in silence about health issues that are easily treatable. The majority of men are unwilling to talk about erection problems, for example, out of a sense of embarrassment and a lack of awareness about what help is available.

Women often find it easier to discuss their health problems with friends or family, and they are far more likely to consult doctors or pharmacists. Pharmacy Magazine reports that levels of male health literacy are significantly lower than those of women, particularly in the 20 to 40-year-old age group, where men visit a GP half as often as women.

The article also highlights the prevalence of erectile dysfunction (ED) amongst UK males, with an estimated 4.3 million men thought to be affected. Around a fifth of these men are thought to be under 45 years of age. Yet, a recent survey of 5,000 men revealed that only 4% of men with ED sought help from a pharmacist.

76% of respondents said they were too embarrassed to seek help for their ED problem. Campaigns such as those led by the Men’s Health Forum aim to break the silence and taboos around the issue and educate men on the causes. The survey revealed that a quarter of men were unaware that lifestyle factors could contribute to ED, for example.

The Covid-19 pandemic is thought to have fuelled a rise in the common risk factors for ED, which include stress, anxiety, tiredness, and excessive alcohol intake. It is commonly thought to be an age-related problem, and although age itself doesn’t cause ED, the risk does increase with age.

It is normal to experience an erection problem now and again, through tiredness, stress, too much alcohol, or just not being in the right mood. However, if the problem persists, then it is necessary to address the cause. This can either be physical or psychological.

One of the main physical causes of ED is diabetes, with 25% of men aged 20-34 affected, and 75% of men aged 60-64. Smoking is thought to be a major contributory factor in up to 80% of cases, as it constricts the blood flow and damages the arteries around the penis.

Regular heavy drinking can have a similar effect on the arteries, and it also reduces testosterone levels and increases levels of the female hormone oestrogen. Other physical causes include the side effects of drugs and prostate gland surgery. Psychological causes include stress, anxiety and depression, and relationship problems.

Treatments for ED will depend on the causes. In the first instance, it is best to tackle issues such as excessive drinking and smoking. Weight should be managed with a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise. Oral treatments such as Sildenafil Accord are available to buy after an online consultation.