THERE are plenty of ways to describe an erection, but finding the right words is tough when things are not getting as hard as planned down there.
Londonder Xander Gilbert, 33, not only found the right words to talk about it — he and his cousin Angus Barge, 31, from Edinburgh, launched a business helping men struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED).
Olivia WestXander Gilbert (pictured with girlfriend Alice Howood) suffered from erectile dysfunction in his 30s[/caption] Xander and his cousin Angus Barge launched a business to help men who are also suffering from erectile dysfunction
Almost HALF of men have suffered with a form of ED at some point.
And Angus and Xander do not want anyone to struggle in silence.
Xander says: “Angus and I were on a long car journey to my parents’ place in Oxford around 2018 when he said he’d been struggling.
“He didn’t know I had been too.
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“But we had a conversation — with both of us looking dead ahead or out the window — and both felt so much better for being honest.”
Their conversation did not end in the car. Drawing on Xander’s background in tech development and Angus’s experience in counselling and psychotherapy, the pair set up Mojo Men (mojo.so) in 2020. They have not looked back.
Xander says: “I started having problems in my early twenties.
“I had a couple of sexual encounters that gave me huge performance anxiety. I googled a lot about it but kept it to myself.
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“When I met my girlfriend Alice in 2018, I decided to be honest.
“Before we got intimate, I told her I’d experienced it and that it happened sometimes.
“It was a pretty painful conversation but being upfront felt much better than worrying about what might happen.
“As it turned out, things between us were fine.
“But I think that’s largely because there wasn’t any anxiety on my side because I’d been open — something not many men are.
“The honesty must have worked because we welcomed our first child this year.”
It can also be difficult for women to talk about a partner’s problems — as Xander’s partner Alice Howood, 31, from Oxford, knows.
She says: “Xander was the first guy I’d been with who mentioned ED but I instantly admired the fact he’d been upfront about it.
“Women can sometimes feel it’s their fault — that maybe they’re not attractive enough. But that’s taking away from the issue itself.
“There’s a pressure to persevere and keep trying. But changing up what you do or finding intimacy in other ways can really help.”
Angus says of that conversation in the car: “I have no idea what made me open up to Xander
“It was awkward to begin with. I felt less alone when he said he’d been dealing with it too.”
WHAT IS IT? Most men will fail to get or keep an erection once in a while.
It’s often down to stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much and is nothing to worry about.
But Amanda Barge, psychosexual therapist for Mojo says: “ED is a recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sex.
“For it to be a ‘dysfunction’, it needs to happen regularly – around 75 to 100 per cent of the time.”
HOW IT HAPPENS: “Getting an erection is quite a complex process – it involves your brain, nerves, hormones, muscles, blood vessels and emotions.
A problem can result from any of these factors, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
WHY IT HAPPENS: “The difficulty for many is that once they have had a problem, they begin ‘spectatoring’ their penis – which essentially means they dread not being able to get aroused and often fear losing an erection.
“Their bodies go in to fight-or-flight mode, which is not a great place to enjoy sex. They are so in their heads they are unable to enjoy the arousing feelings of making love.
“This can become a vicious cycle, causing real distress and relationship problems.”
WHO’S AT RISK? “ED becomes more prevalent as men age, but situational ED can kick in at any age for many different reasons including underlying medical conditions, lack of arousal, being too rushed, anxiety, depression, low mood, relational problems, tiredness, booze or drugs, lack of experience.”
UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS: “Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, MS, Peyronie’s disease (fibrous scar tissue under the skin of the penis), injuries from surgery or prostate cancer and cycling injuries can all increase a bloke’s risk of ED.”
…AND HERE ARE THEIR SIX TIPS FOR YOU
GettyXander and Angus have six tips to get your sex life back[/caption]
SEE YOUR GP: “The first port of call should always be your GP to make sure ED isn’t a symptom of a bigger medical condition,” says Angus. “However, in almost all cases of erectile dysfunction there’s a psychological element that needs to be tackled.”
DON’T BLAME: “Whichever side of a relationship you are on, blaming yourself doesn’t help,” says Xander. “Men can pretend it hasn’t happened before, which doesn’t help anyone. ED is no one’s fault. It’s a health condition that needs to be sorted.”
FORGET PENETRATION: “We asked more than 100 women what their favourite part of sex was,” says Angus. “Not a single one said penetration. So if ED’s an issue, mix things up.”
TALK: “If you are in a relationship, talk about ED outside the bedroom,” says Xander. “If you are having occasional sexual encounters, consider mentioning it beforehand to reduce pressure on yourself when the time comes. It’s difficult to do but could really help you out.”
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HONEST EXPECTATIONS: “Seventy-seven per cent of men access porn every month, which can give you an unrealistic version of sex,” says Angus. “It’s worth examining your habits and behaviours to see whether you’re putting pressure on yourself.”
REASSURE: “In a relationship, ED can make both of you feel vulnerable, and that’s when it becomes easy to start internalising,” says Angus. “Reassurance will go a very long way to helping both of you.”