Men’s Beliefs About Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction: What Influences Treatment Use? A Systematic Review

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to maintain an erection sufficient enough for sexual intercourse. ED affects men in different ways,  but the main effects are depression, low esteem, and anxiety.

However, controversies surround its treatment because of the different beliefs and cultures.

How Do Men Perceive Erectile Dysfunction?

A recent survey shows that only 10.5% of men with erectile dysfunction seek help. The main reason for this low turnout is the way men perceive erectile dysfunction and its treatment.

Culture has a great influence on attitudes, expectations, and sexual behavior. Some men believe that erectile dysfunction is not a health condition but rather a consequence of action in their cultural beliefs. Conversely, some agree that it is a health condition that requires medical attention.

Some cultures restrict the discussion of sexual dysfunction, especially for young men, because they perceive sexual power as strength; this makes men shy to report and treat erectile dysfunction. For this reason, impotence is considered a weakness or a curse and causes stigma in the victims.

Popular Beliefs and Myths surrounding ED

●     Oral Medication is the Only Way to Treat ED

Men believe that oral medication such as Viagra is the only way to treat ED, you can get from The truth is that other lifestyle changes like cutting weight, quitting smoking, and watching diet are the first things a urologist will recommend before they prescribe any medication.

●     Seeing a Doctor is Not Necessary as Herbal Remedies can Cure ED

Herbal supplements can be risky because there is limited research on their efficacy. They can cause serious side effects and can interfere with your current prescription medication. This is why it is advisable to consult a urologist before taking any supplements.

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●     Only a Specialist Can Treat ED

If you have erectile dysfunction, you should have your family doctor conduct some basic tests to determine the cause and state of your condition. A simple exercise can treat ED-related stress and improve blood flow in your body for sufficient erection. When the condition is critical, your doctor can refer you to a urologist for specialist treatment.

What Influences Treatment Choice?

There are many reasons men can stop the treatment recommended by a specialist. Doctors can administer treatment through injection, suppositories, and penile implants for severe conditions. 

It is important to educate men about impotence, the importance of utilizing treatment, and changing their beliefs towards treatment to help them use and complete the prescribed medications .

Here are the top reasons for stopping ED treatment:

●     Mode Of Treatment

In a recent research, men responded differently to the way medication was administered. 12% of men taking oral medication, 15.2% taking injections, and 31.5% of men taking suppositories reported poor erections as their reasons for abandoning treatment.

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●     Treatment Ineffectiveness

Most men with high expectations at the beginning of the treatment lose hope and drop medication because of the ineffectiveness of some medications. The efficacy of erectile dysfunction medications plays a big role in whether the patients will complete the treatment.

●     Unsatisfactory Response

Men respond differently to ED medications. Some patients get better results with a hard and consistent erection, but the patients with poor results drop the medication after an unsatisfactory response of their erection. Response to treatment can be influenced by age and other conditions which affect erection, such as diabetes, heart conditions, and kidney problems.

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●     Side Effects

In a different study, 12.1% of men took oral medication, 8% took injected medication. 31.5% of the subjects stopped taking suppository medication due to side effects, including headaches , nasal congestion, diarrhea, rash, dizziness and urethral pains. Some men experienced erection for hours and needed urgent medical attention.

●     Intimacy in a Relationship

It is important to consider men’s emotional readiness and perception towards their relationship before administering any treatment. Studies show that men abandon medication because their partners have lost their sexual desire.

6% of men on the pill said that their partners were not in a position to invest emotionally in the relationship. Another 6% stated that their partners were no longer interested in a sexual relationship, while another 5.5% said they stopped treatment due to conflict in the relationship.

●     Treatment Costs

Erectile dysfunction can take time to treat, especially if it is severe. Despite the effectiveness of prescription medications, men taking erectile dysfunction medication drop the use due to the high cost that comes with the treatment plan. Discussing a better and affordable treatment plan with your urologists can prevent unsuccessful treatments and allow for affordable payment plans for your medication.


Cultural or community beliefs greatly influence the successful treatment of erectile dysfunction cases. Good education and sensitization can help improve the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men.

Efforts have been made to normalize ED since it is a normal part of aging in men. However, young men should not be discouraged when they experience ED. Discussing it with their partner and visiting the urologists is a big step towards ensuring a healthy sexual life.



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