It Was Tough Admitting Erectile Dysfunction at 19 Years Old

Jonathan, 25, lives in Winter Park, Fla.

Urologists weren't eager to treat a young man, but he's not convinced it's all in his head.(MASTERFILE)I first realized something was wrong when I was 19 and my girlfriend at the time told me that it wasn't normal to lose your erection in the middle of sex. So I started thinking more about it.

If I can get decently hard, it's gone in about 10 or 15 minutes. I'm 25 now, and I shouldn't have this problem. If I were 55, it would be a different story.

But I didn't get help right away. It took a while to admit that I had any problems at all. I looked up information online and didn't find a lot of answers. By the time I finally worked up the nerve to talk to my doctor, I was married to a very understanding woman. And my problem frustrated us both.

My doctor wasn't much help. I tried Viagra and Levitra, and both of them have helped me to get a fuller erection, but, from what I understand, it's not as full as it should be. And both have the strangest side effects, at least for me. In addition to giving me sinus congestion and headaches, the pills make me feel depressed very quickly. It really kills the mood, and I beat myself up over not being able to satisfy my wife.

More about ED

I know a lot of doctors say it's often a psychological issue—especially when ED happens in younger guys—but I don't know. I want to say it is, because that means it's something I can eventually fix with therapy. But the fact is that I've had this all my life, and that makes me think there's a physical cause.

After my experiences with the pills, my doctor recommended that I see a urologist. Unfortunately, the first few urologists I called refused to see me because I'm not a 55-year-old with a heart condition. It was just the doctors' policy. It was so hard to be turned away. I wondered if would be able to find any help at all.

When I finally found a urologist who would see me, sitting in the waiting room was a little uncomfortable. I was the only guy under 40. The doctor gave me a quick five-minute examination and said I might have leaky veins. Basically, the blood flows into my penis at a normal rate but leaves much quicker than it enters. He described a test where they give you an injection to achieve an erection and inject a dye so they can see the blood flow. Ironically, you have to take another medication to get rid of the erection.

But the doctor didn't recommend the test and wouldn't give me a clear reason. The whole experience left me wanting more answers, and I was turned off by how little time he spent talking to and examining me.

I'm planning to get a second opinion. Basically, his idea of a treatment plan was just to deal with it. And at my age, I know that I don't have to accept that.

Jonathan is not his real name.

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