Main content


Talking frankly to men and their partners, psychologist Dr. Petra Boynton explores the reality of erectile dysfunction.

Most men will experience erection problems at some stage in their life but few will seek help because of shame and embarrassment. In this documentary, men speak openly to psychologist Dr Petra Boynton about their erection difficulties and how it’s affected them and their relationships.

“You don’t feel like a man. You can really kick yourself in the teeth. You can feel suicidal. You can feel the dark depressions of the ends of the earth. It’s a terrible thing for a bloke.”

Some men interviewed in the programme have erection problems because of surgery. Knowing the cause helped them find the right treatment but it didn’t make erectile dysfunction any easier to accept. We speak to them, with their partners, about how they’ve come to terms with the changes and how, in some cases, managed to maintain a physical and intimate relationship.

For most men, the origin of erectile dysfunction is psychological with performance anxiety the main cause. A lack of sex education and an unrealistic expectation can add to the pressure men feel. We hear from one man who believes pornography and childhood trauma affected his ability to perform and another who used drink as a cover for his erection problems.

Erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of other health problems like heart disease or diabetes so it is important to seek help if the problem is long lasting.

But men still find it hard to talk.

In this frank and honest half-hour documentary, men do talk and share what erectile dysfunction is like, perhaps encouraging other men to do the same.

Producer: Henrietta Harrison
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Dec 2018 21:00

For Information & Support

If you have concerns about an ongoing erection problem, you should visit your GP to check whether erectile dysfunction is a sign of something else.


The following organisations can offer additional information and support


National sexual health helpline
If you would like to talk to someone about a sexual health issue, you can call the national sexual health helpline. Your call will be treated with sensitivity and in strict confidence.

Phone: 0300 123 7123 (weekdays 9am-8pm)


Sexual Health Scotland offers advice on sexual health issues including STDs, sex and relationships, contraception and pregnancy. The website contains a postcode search facility to find your nearest sexual health clinic.

Phone: 0800 22 44 88


Welcome to sexual health Northern Ireland offers information and advice on how to look after your sexual health. It also highlights the services available where you can get more help and advice.


Sex Worth Talking About is a website that provides straightforward information and advice to make it easier to discuss everything to do with contraception and sexual health, including Teen talk, a section specially designed for young people.