The EDGE Blog

Sir Ian Botham: We Need To Talk About Erectile Dysfunction

 “I’m a male and men do have problems and you have to front up to them.”

Last week, Sir Ian Botham spoke out about erectile dysfunction treatment. Explaining that he’s personally having a procedure called ‘Vigore’, to prevent him having problems with erectile dysfunction in the future. The procedure involves sending shock waves through the penis, which stimulates the tissue to grow new blood vessels. Does it work? According to the Telegraph trials of the treatment have been encouraging:

“one in India saw an 82pc success rate, while recent research found LSWT [the treatment] successful in 70pc of male smokers.”

But we’re not here to persuade you to pop into a clinic and opt for the shock treatment. We’re glad that Sir Ian Botham is getting a conversation going around erectile dysfunction – and we hope more people will join in. ED (erectile dysfunction) is a notoriously tricky topic to talk about. Men who have it often don’t want to discuss it, because of the perceived stigma around not being able to ‘get it up.’

Myths about erectile dysfunction

One of the reasons it’s difficult for many men to talk about erectile dysfunction is because of the way society talks about male sexuality. There’s a lot of pressure to ‘perform’ in the bedroom. From getting it hard at the right time to staying hard for long enough, and making sure to time your ejaculation just right.

That means that erectile dysfunction – as well as premature or delayed ejaculation – remains a taboo topic for many guys, who don’t want to admit that they don’t live up to expectations.

The problem is, those expectations are mostly unrealistic. No one can be expected to get hard every single time they need to, or to orgasm at exactly the right moment. As men get older there’s a higher chance that they’ll have issues with erectile dysfunction – admitting that you’re one of those men shouldn’t be a source of shame, it’s a natural fact of life.

Why do we need to talk about erectile dysfunction?

If you’re too scared to talk about erectile dysfunction, then you’re potentially too scared to go to your doctor, and that could be a big problem. Erectile dysfunction can sometimes (though not always) be a symptom of more serious health issues elsewhere, such as heart disease. The only way to know is to go and get it checked out.

On top of this, being open about erectile dysfunction can drastically improve your sex life. If your partner understands and you can both talk about the issue, then you can also discuss how to have a satisfying sex life together without letting pressure or shame around ED kill the mood. If you can talk about it you can also start exploring sex toys.

PULSE DUO allows you to orgasm without having an erection. Used in a variety of non-penetrative sex positions to give pleasure to you and your partner.

Is Sir Ian Botham right to front this campaign?

Although Sir Ian Botham’s statement was met with a lot of praise – newspapers referred to him as ‘brave’ for speaking out – it wasn’t celebrated from all corners. While Botham’s statement may have got people talking about erectile dysfunction, his focus on the treatment as preventative, and insistence that he doesn’t currently struggle with ED, might actually help to prop up some of the stigma around it rather than challenge it. Writing in the Observer, Victoria Coren-Mitchell pointed out that there was one big flaw in Botham’s ‘brave’ story: he repeatedly insisted that he didn’t actually suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Coren-Mitchell points out that this could do the opposite of what’s intended, and actually contribute to the stigma surrounding erectile dysfunction:

“The great sportsman has been having impotence treatment, he “bravely revealed”, but only as a preventative measure. He urged men to throw off pride issues around penile function and confidently seek treatment for impotence – but not men like himself, because he doesn’t suffer from it. No siree. No Sir-Ian. … That Ian Botham would despise the idea of anyone thinking he has “a problem”, yet agree to be the man who talks publicly about impotence anyway … if there is shame in anything, it’s that.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. We’re keen to help dispel myths around erectile dysfunction, as well as tackle the stigma around this very common complaint. Is Sir Ian Botham’s public statement welcome, or do you think the fact that he’s focused on prevention means he’s doing more harm than good?


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