Pills and pumps. Shots administered straight into my penis. I did that, and anything else I could, to combat erectile dysfunction. “Are you serious?” you ask. As a heart attack.  

After a major surgery, I went from normal functioning with plenty of male erectile pride, to suddenly finding myself in a place where it was dead as a door-nail down there. I had just turned 50. I’m not alone. An estimated 15 to 30 million other men in the U.S. have it too. 

There are lots of reasons why we males experience E.D., including:

  • Heart disease
  • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome —increased blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Tobacco use
  • Peyronie’s disease (scar tissue inside the penis)
  • Alcoholism and other substance abuse
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Pelvic or spinal cord area surgeries or injuries 
  • Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns

Mine was cancer. My surgeon mentioned there was a 25% chance of erectile dysfunction because the surgery required that they cut through several nerves in the process of removing the cancer. 

Before getting cancer, I always thought Viagra commercials were a big joke.

I guess the joke was on me. I learned that erectile dysfunction (ED) is real and embarrassingly painful

Weeks after the cancer surgery, complete with catheters and some heavy meds, I didn’t really notice it. Once those were removed, I noticed there was no movement going on down there.

I immediately got in with a urologist. My male performance anxiety kicked into high gear when I got a lady doctor. Now I really needed to show I could get it up.   

That was a huge failure. She gave me a test where the higher the number you score, the more functionality you have. I scored all zeros. She told me, “Your functionality may or may not ever come back.”


But I swung into action quickly and aggressively. That’s where the pills, pumps and shots I mentioned earlier came in.  

She suggested a penis pump to regain blood flow. (It’s definitely not a sexually arousing experience.) I did that for about 10 minutes every day for over a year.

She prescribed pills to help with getting an erection (the Viagra-type pills). I could take up to five pills before sex, but it still didn’t do enough to allow my wife and me to have sex.  

She prescribed medicine injections. Self-administered shots right into the side of the penis 20 minutes before sex.

It’s even more painful than it sounds.

At least it worked for me. That combination of pills and shots before intercourse is what I still have to do today.  

In my head, is a false masculine narrative that something is wrong with me because I need help making that part of my body work played over and over.

I have finally let that go. It took some work, but I’m grateful.  

For more information, you can visit this site here.

What’s been your experience with E.D.? Do/did you feel shame? How did you break through it?

By Matt Burton