Mens Sexual Wellbeing FAQ

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Information & Advice

Mens Sexual Wellbeing FAQ

Get answers to common questions about erectile function, vascular health and premature ejaculation.

Published 05/10/2010

If you have concerns about erectile function or your vascular health, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about causes, symptoms and treatments.

At one time or another, many men have concerns over their sexual performance and how it might impact on their relationships. If you are looking for advice on topics from premature ejaculation to erectile dysfunction, or are looking for possible solutions to help regain your sexual confidence, read on.

General concerns about sexual relationships and sexual health

Q. Should I tell my partner about my concerns?

A. You don't have to share your concerns if you would rather keep them to yourself. However, you might find that talking to your parther helps; it may help reduce your worry and stress about the problem and they can reassure you. If you can tackle any intimacy problems together you might both benefit and it may bring you even closer together.

Q. What are the benefits of seeking help?

A. Sex can be an important part of your relationship and should be enjoyable and stress-free. If you have general concerns about your sexual health, you may not only address any physical issues but, in doing so, may help increase you and your partner's pleasure and intimacy. This in turn can help both strengthen your relationship and build your confidence.

Q. Can my lifestyle impact on my performance?

A. Often, issues with your performance can be linked to your vascular health, which is the health of your blood vessels and how efficiently your blood flows around your body. Small lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, improving your diet, losing weight and taking moderate exercise, can help improve your heart health, which may then help your sex life.

To learn more about vascular health, or to get diet and exercise tips, visit our health information website

Questions about premature ejaculation

Q. What is premature ejaculation?

A. Premature ejaculation can be described as being when a person does not last as long as they wish before ejaculation. Many people see it as being associated with their "performance" and one third of men wish they could last longer during sex.

However, the time before ejaculation varies greatly. For some people this can mean ejaculation after 30 seconds and for other after 30 minutes, so it really is linked to how confident you feel and perceptions of performance.

Q. What causes premature ejaculation?

A. No one is entirely sure what causes premature ejaculation, even though approximately 30 percent of men suffer from it at one time or another.

Some studies have suggested that it can be linked to super-sensitive skin, and in some cases it can be inherited. Often, it may be due to anxiety, nerves or increased sexual excitement.

Q. Isn't premature ejaculation something that just affects younger men?

A. Although a large number of those who experience premature ejaculation are younger men, many are not. Premature ejaculation can be common in men aged 25-60.

Q. How long is the "normal" duration for sex?

A. This is very difficult to assess, as what's deemed "normal" is very subjective. However, what we do know from research is that the average man lasts 7.3 minutes and a third of all men wish they could have sex for longer.

Q. What is considered "successful" in treating premature ejaculation?

A. Generally, medical professionals consider treatment successful if it at least doubles the time until ejaculation. However, remember sex should be pleasurable and stress-free. That means you could consider any treatment successful if it means you feel more confident and less worried or anxious about your performance. If you're seeking help with the premature ejaculation, you may wish to speak to your GP or pharmacist.

You can also look online for more men's sexual health infomation at

*All statistics taken from Boots Men's Sexual Wellbeing Guide 2010

Questions about erectile dysfunction

Q. What is erectile dysfunction?

A. Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called impotence, is one of the most common sexual problems in men, affecting half of men over the age of 40. It is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is sufficient to ensure satisfactory sex for both partners.

People often think of ED as simply the inability to gain an erection. However, it's also used to describe when the quality or duration of the erection means that your sexual performance is being affected which in turn can have an impact on your relationships.

Although this condidtion affects more than 150m men worldwide, most men with ED have not visited a doctor or sought help for their condition. This is usually because they are embarrassed or they do not consider their condition severe enough.

Boots believes that if erectile function is affecting your relationship, self-confidence or wellbeing, you should not have to simply live with it, no matter what level of severity you believe it is.

Importantly, between 70 and 90 per cent of men who suffer from the condition have an underlying physical cause, such as the narrowing blood vessels, which restricts blood flow around the body, including to your genital area and therefore it is an important indicator of health and should not be ignored.

Visit your GP or pharmacist, or go online to for more help and information.

Q. What causes erectile dysfunction?

A. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by both external and physiological triggers, including: stress, trauma, obesity, smoking, alcohol and recreational drug use.

It can also be caused by fatty deposits in blood vessels which can cause reduced blood flow to the genital area. Therefore, if you believe you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, this could be a sign that you need to make some changes to your lifestyle for the benefit of your overall health and it should be investigated further by your GP.

If you need help with lifestyle changes, you could take our stop smoking and weight loss quizzes or visit

Q. Is erectile dysfunction a natural part of growing old?

A. Erectile dysfunction can be associated with diabetes and with getting older, as there is a link with ageing diseases such as narrowing of the blood vessels. However, it also affects many younger men, with 50 per cent of men over 40 suffering from erectile dysfunction at some point in their life. (Source: NHS Choices)

However, you don't have to accept erectile dysfunction as an inevitable part of getting older.

Q. Is erectile dysfunction usually down to psychological reasons?

A. Not always. In fact between 70 and 90 per cent of men with erectile dysfunction have an underlying physical cause, such as high blood pressure. In many cases, erectile dysfunction can be treated by medicines prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist..

Treatment should be supplemented with lifestyle changes such as taking a moderate exercise, stopping smoking, healthyonle eating and reducing alcohol intake.

Q. How can I treat erectile dysfunction?


  • You can visit your doctor who may give you a prescription and this can be dispensed discreetly and confidentially for you in your local pharmacy.

  • Treatment should be supplemented with lifestyle changes such as taking a moderate exercise, stopping smoking, health eating and reducing alcohol intake.

Q. How does vascular health affect the ability to get or maintain an erection?

A. Declining vascular health can cause blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow to the genital area.

Q. How can I help maintain my vascular health?

A. L-arginine is the main substrate for the production of nitric oxide, which plays a key role in relaxing blood vessels and may help to maintain healthy blood circulation, including in the genital area. Therefore you may find that a supplement containing L-arginine could be of benefit in maintaining vascular health in the genital area.

*All statistics taken from Boots Men's Sexual Wellbeing Guide, using research from 2012

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