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Men are 1.4 times more likely than women to die from almost any chronic medical condition, according to national statistics reported by Hartford HealthCare. Yet men are 80 percent less likely than women to seek preventive healthcare. The very fact that men also live shorter lives means that male attitudes about prevention need to change.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) the difficulty or inability to achieve and maintain an erection can affect men of any age, with 52 percent of men ages 40-70 experiencing some degree of ED. Medical conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and obesity can contribute to ED. Surgery, medications or psychological issues can be factors as well, ED is treatable.

The first and perhaps the most difficult step for some men is to confide in their primary care physician, who may send them to a specialist. A board-licensed urologist will explain all possible options and FDA-approved treatments available.

Hartford HealthCare’s Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute has an on-site behavioral expert who can help with any underlying emotional problems such as performance anxiety, depression, loss of interest and low self-esteem.

Many men don’t realize that there are ED treatments, including a penile implant. The surgery is about a 90-minute procedure, often outpatient or a one-night stay. The implant looks natural and creates an erection whenever desired.

Doug J., 74, of New London County, had the implant procedure in November 2017 and never looked back. He had recovered from cancer surgery that removed his prostate but unfortunately caused ED. Even after he was deemed cancer-free, he still wasn’t completely happy because of ED.

Doug’s oncologist referred him to Jared Bieniek, M.D., a board-certified urologist with Hartford HealthCare’s Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute. Though Doug chose first to try less invasive treatments, such as medication and injections, those were unsuccessful or uncomfortable. When Dr. Bieniek advised Doug he was a candidate for an implant, Doug at first was reluctant.

“I was scared to death,” Doug recalls. “But Dr. Bieniek made me comfortable. After it was all over, I was fine. I had discomfort, but I can’t remember pain.”

The implant surgery involved inserting two chambers in the penis, a saline-filled reservoir behind the abdominal muscles, and a pump in the scrotum. By manually activating this pump, an erection occurs on demand.

“For something that you thought you would never have again, and there it was,“ he says. “It doesn’t feel fake at all. It feels like you’re a 20-year-old guy again. I would recommend it to anybody.”

Reflecting on his experience, Doug offers advice to any man with ED: “Go talk to your doctor about it. Make sure you get the best doctor possible. I was lucky. I got an amazing doctor. Don’t be afraid to do it.”

Dr. Bieniek and the Tallwood team of specialists perform implants weekly, making it a high volume center. After the procedure, he says patients respond with “a sigh of relief to have that part of their lives back.”

For more information, log on to Tallwood Kidney and Urology Institute.

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