How to talk to your doctor about premature ejaculation
This article was written by the Health Xchange editor, with expert input from the Department of Urology at Singapore General Hospital. It was first posted on 29th September 2011.
Premature ejaculation is more common than erectile dysfunction, but it is less talked about because there wasn’t any medicine readily available until recently.
The situation changed in March this year with the launch of Priligy, a pill able to prolong the length of intercourse up to three times.
So men now have an option for premature ejaculation (PE), but they must be willing to discuss their problem with a medical practitioner. Not necessarily an easy task, is it?
We asked Dr Lim Kok Bin, visiting consultant at Singapore General Hospital’s Department of Urology, for advice on how to broach the delicate topic whilst at the doctor’s office.
Most men won’t talk about premature ejaculation
Some 77 per cent of Singaporean men with PE have never mentioned their problem to a doctor, according to the Premature Ejaculation Prevalence and Attitudes (PEPA) survey.
“Men are more likely to discuss erectile dysfunction, because of the awareness effort put in by drug companies over the last decade,” says Dr Lim, who also practises at Raffles Hospital’s UroRenal Centre.
What’s holding most men back? The previous lack of effective treatment for PE and, of course, the stigma, answers Dr Lim. Also, “most men with PE tend to have it since young. As their problem does not stop them from impregnating their partner — unlike erectile dysfunction — they may not feel the urgency to address the issue.”
Related article: What is erectile dysfunction?
Currently, a number of men have come forward because of the new drug Priligy. “About half of my PE patients come out of their own accord; the other half is driven by their partner,” mentions Dr Lim.
How to talk to your doctor if you suffer from premature ejaculation:
Bring up the topic right at the beginning of the visit. Don’t worry about using the right “medical” terms.
Find a Premature Ejaculation Questionnaire online, print the results and take them with you. Alternatively, you could print some relevant article – like this one – to show your doctor.
If it helps, you can readily admit your discomfort by saying: “It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’d like to talk about a sexual problem.”
Take your partner along for support or help in answering the questions you may be asked.
Have a list of the conditions you are treated for or had in the past. Include your current medications and any recent health check results.
Rest assured that your physician has heard it all before. It’s virtually impossible to shock a doctor.
If anything, many doctors in Singapore have worked and received medical training in Western countries, where male patients are more forthcoming. “Western men will be frank and provide information about whether they are heterosexual, homosexual or even bisexual,” says Dr Lim, who was trained in the UK and Canada.
What you need to remember is that a doctor with a solid holistic approach will be glad to help you improve your quality of life, says Dr Lim. However, physicians are not mind-readers, so chances are, you will have to take the first step and bring up the topic.
Related article: Male ageing and sex
A final word about buying pills online: “A lot of the pills sold on the internet do contain active ingredients found in the actual medicine. The problem is that these pills may contain other ingredients that might interact with each other and cause unwanted and sometimes detrimental side effects,” cautions Dr Lim.
Dr Tan’s Comments:
Just be matter-of-fact about it. Say ‘Doc I think I have PE’ and the doctor will take over the conversation from there with all the relevant questions. PE is a medical condition. It therefore has to be approached like any other medical condition in a systematic, scientific and holistic manner.
I saw many comments for this original article making light of PE. I absolutely agree that PE is not a disease per se. However, if it is affecting one’s self confidence or if it is affecting a couple’s sex life which in turn affects their relationship/marriage, then it does become an issue that needs to be addressed. Not all men with PE will need medication.
So if you think you have PE, see your doctor and trust in his/her professionalism.
About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.
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