Confronting the Stigma of ED
I remained a virgin until age 29.
That’s not a fact I regularly share with folks, but when I do, it’s almost always met with surprise—especially these days.
It was my own choice to wait so long. I originally thought I would remain a virgin until marriage, but I fell in love with a coworker in my late 20s. The decision to have sex became clear as soon as we started dating.
A few dates in, the big night finally arrived. She asked if I wanted to spend the weekend at her place, so I had to calm myself down, battling both excitement and nerves. We had dinner, and then she asked if I wanted to go upstairs. I very much did.
After about an hour of foreplay, it was time.
Just one problem: Nothing happened.
Waiting until 29 to have sex had put an incredible amount of pressure on that first time. Now imagine a failure to get an erection in the moment you’ve spent more than half your life thinking about.
It was embarrassing. Disappointing. Confusing.
There has to be a reason
I went to my urologist the following week to ask what was happening; or what wasn’t happening, to be more precise. He was an older man who believed in the “old school” way of treating such issues.
"Use it or lose it, buddy!"
Seriously. That was his explanation.
Assuming there had to be a better answer, I found a new urologist. She let me know there were several likely reasons for my failure to perform. For starters, I was overweight. I also had shockingly low levels of testosterone in my body. Finally, I had untreated high blood pressure that was at stroke-inducing levels. I worked in an incredibly stressful job, which had spiked my blood pressure for nearly a decade. In fact, she was surprised I hadn’t yet had a stroke.
Throw all of that together, and it created a perfect recipe for failure in the bedroom.
A happy ending
I’ve learned a lot about erectile dysfunction (ED) over the past 14 years. I’ve tried just about every treatment out there. I’ve been on testosterone injections, testosterone creams, bioidentical testosterone. I’ve had penis injections, wave therapy, pumps. I’ve swallowed every brand of pills. I even sat on a chair for 30 minutes at a time as it used vibrations to stimulate my prostate.
Here’s the good news: In the 14 years I’ve dealt with this, I’ve never had a partner freak out over the condition. These days, my penis works, most of the time at least. I’m always open and upfront with a partner about my ED well before the time arrives. I’ve learned that it’s good to have a backup plan, so I’ve put in the effort to become really skilled at cunnilingus. Trust me, it’s the best plan B you can have.
That doesn’t mean everything is perfect all the time; far from it. I still worry about ED a lot, but I’ve learned that worrying just makes it worse. Now that I’m in my mid-40s, more of my partners have experience dating and sleeping with other men who have ED—or so they tell me.
Luckily, I’ve had a 14-year head start in dealing with it.
*The writer's name has been withheld to protect their identity. Unfortunately, sexual health issues still carry a stigma that makes many people uncomfortable airing intimate details of their lives in public. One of Giddy's aims is to make this stigma all but disappear, and to help create a culture that promotes open and honest conversation about all matters related to our sex lives. We understand this type of shift takes time, and we hope you join us in this pursuit.