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 30 Oct 2017 11:00

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The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy provides information about counselling and psychotherapy, and offers a registry of registered therapists.


One You: Information about sexual health from Public Health England

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


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.


FPA gives straightforward information, advice and support on sexual health, sex and relationships to everyone in the UK.


Samaritans is available 24 hours a day for anyone struggling to cope and provide a safe place to talk where calls are completely confidential.

Phone: 116 123



CALM, the campaign against living miserably aims to prevent male suicide in the UK and offers anonymous, confidential listening, information and signposting.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily 5pm-midnight)


The National Association for People Abused in Childhood offers support, advice and guidance to adult survivors of any form of childhood abuse.

Phone: 0808 801 0331


Survivors UK provides information, support and counselling for men who have been raped or sexually abused.

A webchat is available: A counselling fee may apply.


Men's Advice Line offers confidential advice for men experiencing domestic violence from a partner or ex-partner.

Phone: 0808 801 0327 (weekdays 9am-5pm)


Macmillan Cancer Support provides medical, practical, emotional and financial support to cancer patients, their carers friends and family.

Phone: 0808 808 0000

Information about how your sexuality and sex life may be affected by cancer treatment:


The British Heart Foundation provides care, support and a range of information for everyone living with heart disease.

Phone:  0300 330 3311.

Information about sex and heart conditions:


Diabetes UK provides practical information and emotional support for anyone who has questions about diabetes.

Phone: 0345 123 2399 (Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm)

Information about sexual dysfunction and diabetes:


Leonard Cheshire offers a wide range of services for disables people including accommodation services, personalised care and support services, education and leisure services. A search facility is available to find services locally.

In Touch project – information and resources so that you can make informed, safer choices about the sex you choose to have

Naz Project London (NPL) provides sexual health and HIV prevention and support services to selected Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in London.

Phone: 020 8741 1879, Mon-Fri9.30am-5.30pm)