fbpx Worsening ED Made Me the King of Denial

Worsening ED Made Me the King of Denial

Excuses will never defeat erectile dysfunction. Action will. I put my ego aside, and so can you.
Written by

George Stamps

The first time erectile dysfunction affected me, I refused to accept what was happening. I had gotten an erection, but after about 10 minutes, like a leaky balloon, it essentially deflated. I admit the prospect of erectile dysfunction (ED) flashed in my head, but I rejected the notion.

"Guys like me don't get ED," I thought. I was a "manly man," doing everything from operating a bulldozer to training hunting dogs for a living.

The first lie I told myself was I had simply been tired. I mean, I had worked much longer hours previously with no effect in the bedroom, but it was easier to believe the excuse. Besides, every guy strikes out once in a while.

Even though I told myself it was fatigue, I soon started avoiding sex, reasoning I couldn't fail if I didn't try. For two weeks, this worked. I went to bed early, then late, to avoid sexual contact. It was easy to feign indigestion or migraines—anything really—to avoid my fear of another failure.

The excuses worked, at least in my mind, until the first part of the second week. I have a high libido, and by that time, my excuse-making was losing the battle with my desire. Overnight, I had recovered from my maladies and was raring to go. I was ready, yes, but a little worried about my performance, because nothing reinforced in my mind that the episode two weeks earlier could truly be written off to fatigue.

Then, I dismissed the fact that I had not been as firm as normal.

This was the last time I was able to have sex unaided.

I had won the battle but was losing the war—and I wasn't ready to face the facts.

Oh, the excuses

My biggest argument that it couldn't be ED was my age. I was in my 30s and felt great—other than this one specific problem I incorrectly attributed to fatigue. I knew the condition struck men younger than I was, but I thought such an occurrence had to be rare.

All the ED jokes I once thought were funny weren't anymore.

This was something that wasn't going to improve over time, and I knew I was in trouble.

Being curious, I had read about erectile dysfunction years earlier and knew there were treatments ranging from noninvasive measures, such as pumps and medications, to injections and even penile implants involving surgery.

I reluctantly acknowledged I had ED, a condition that affects at least 30 million men in the United States, but wanted to solve it the easiest way possible. I outright rejected ordering a pump. No way was I having something like that delivered to my home. The fact that it would be delivered with no identifying writing on the packaging did not escape me, but I went with the "What would our neighbors think?'' argument.

With the easy solution off the table, I decided my sex life was over.

Reluctant to act
Illustration by Tré Carden
Illustration by Tré Carden

The longer the situation went on, the more my ego suffered. I worried this would be the death of my marriage. My wife never mentioned it or badgered me to see my doctor, but I knew she missed our sex life, just like I did. Still, I waited two years before I talked to my doctor—someone I saw regularly—refusing to admit I was scared of what he would tell me.

See, I have diabetes. People with diabetes have a much higher incidence of erectile dysfunction, and it was the culprit behind my ED. Diabetes damages nerves and blood vessels, and it did a bang-up job on me, physically and emotionally.

I attended regular wellness visits to the doctor to manage my diabetes, and I always told myself, "During the next visit, I will mention my ED and get a prescription for Viagra." But every time during the 15-minute drive to his office, I thought of reasons not to mention it. And every time during the 15-minute drive home, I came up with an excuse why I failed to broach the subject.

I don't remember all the excuses I used, but I'll never forget the look of disappointment on my wife's face after one too many excuses.

Time to act

That was the trigger: seeing my wife's disappointment. I was ashamed of my excuses and how selfish I was for not seeking help for a medical issue that was affecting us both. She had given birth to our children, and as I weighed her contributions to our marriage against my bruised ego, I found it difficult to face the man I saw in the bathroom mirror.

I could have called and set up an earlier doctor's appointment but waited for my regular visit. I was committed to getting help...but still stalling. The morning of my next appointment, the excuses for why I couldn't talk to the doctor about my ED came back.

I wanted help, but my ego was in the way.

After being led to an exam room, I waited for the doctor. When he came in, he discussed the results of my lab work. I didn't hear a word. I was still trying to screw up the courage to ask for help with erectile dysfunction.

The doctor finished talking and told me to return in three months. His hand was on the handle of the door when I blurted out that I wanted to talk about my ED.

To my surprise, he didn't ask questions or submit me to an exam. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a prescription pad, wrote a prescription for Viagra, tore it off and handed it to me. It. Was. That. Easy.

I was chastising myself for waiting so long to seek help. Leaving the doctor's office, I made a beeline to the pharmacy. I was so excited, it never occurred to me that the female pharmacist would know I had ED. I had done the difficult part by speaking up and getting help.

Unfortunately, Viagra didn't solve my erectile issues, but I don't regret starting there. Taking the first step put me on a path that, while long, difficult and at times depressing, led to penile implants. Yes, implants are a solution of last resort—lifestyle changes, medications, injections and wearable devices (such as Eddie by Giddy) are less-invasive potential solutions—but for me, implants worked, and are still working, and I never would have arrived there had I not blurted out my problem at the doctor's office.

The lost years resulted in loads of mental anguish and took away an important part of my marriage. Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition and nothing to be ashamed of. I only wish I had sought help sooner.