Health in Intimacy

Erectile dysfunction. Just the topic itself – even in 2014 with the bombardment of commercials – can stop a man in his tracks. Also known as impotence, ED occurs when a man no longer can get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. According to the Mayo Clinic, erection issues from time to time are not always a cause for concern. “But if erectile dysfunction is an ongoing problem, it may cause stress, cause relationship problems or affect your self-confidence,” the clinic said in a statement. “Problems getting or keeping an erection can be a sign of a health condition that needs treatment, such as heart disease or poorly controlled diabetes. Treating an underlying problem may be enough to reverse your erectile dysfunction.” While some men refuse to discuss it, others not only talk openly about it but investigate solutions and take action. Men like 67-year-old Gary Haskett of Indianapolis.

“It really wasn’t (resolved) until three years ago. My sex life is better now than it’s ever been,” he said. Haskett battled ED for years, and tried “everything.” “I tried Viagra, and it worked for a while, but it just still wasn’t really good,” he said. “It was working, but I just wasn’t satisfied with it.”

Very disconcerting
After hearing for several months about Carmel-based Total Performance Medical Center, Haskett decided to make an appointment. The center, whose slogan is “We perform before you pay,” treats only premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, and has an all-male licensed staff.

“Unlike women, who will talk to other women about their medical problems, men don’t talk to other men when they are having ED issues,” said Dr. Gabriel Rosenberg of the center. “It’s only when their partner isn’t being satisfied and suggests they see a doctor, or when they become unhappy with their inability to completely satisfy a partner and they’ve tried Viagra or Cialis and it hasn’t helped, that they will come to see us.

“The ability to perform sexually is so important to a man – no matter his age – so not being able to perform is very disconcerting to a man,” he said.

The sequence
An initial appointment at TPMC lasts 90 minutes and costs $199. It includes blood work to determine testosterone and prostate-specific antigen levels, and a test dose of an FDA-approved medication custom-made for each patient, typically an injection directly into the penis. Patients are guaranteed they’ll be able to achieve an erection, or they don’t pay.

“We might get someone who hasn’t had an erection in 15 years, and we will show him in the initial appointment that we can get a result for him,” said office manager Tim Farley. “Going forward, we customize the medication – including firmness and duration of an erection – but try to limit it to three hours. Once they see what it can do for them, they realize there is nothing to this – it’s not that big a deal. We have been able to help more than 90 percent of the men who have come in.”

What do I have to lose?
In its five years in business, the center has treated more than 4,000 patients, including men like 58-year-old Alan Fagg, of Brazil, Ind., who said he had tried several medications only to be left with severe headaches and still no ability to perform. “I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’” Fagg said. “I have a chronic problem with sciatica and have had back surgery and it made it pretty well impossible to have an erection.” That changed at his initial appointment.m“I had an immediate erection,” he said. “I really think this is important if you want to have a healthy sexual life. I administer it in the privacy of my own home and within two or three minutes I am ready to go.”

There was no color in our life
“I remember I was getting my nails done, and he called and I asked where he was … he told me and I was a bit shocked, but then he said, ‘I have an erection,’” said Alan’s 59-year-old wife, Trena. The couple has been married for a year but together 14 years. “Alan has a very big sex drive so it was really depressing for him not to be able to get an erection.” Haskett’s wife, Carol, also had no idea her husband had sought help. “We had to give it (sex) up – it was just gone,” Carol said. “It was like things had gone to black and white – there was no color in our life. We could go for months without having sex.” It was also the motivation Carol needed to make some life changes as well, including getting hormone replacement therapy and losing 50 pounds. “It just put the zest back into our life,” Gary said.

The patient isn’t alone
“A lot of the patients who come in are older, in their 70s, but the problem can start when a man is in his 40s,” Rosenberg said. “We have had men come in who are in their 90s; people are still very sexually active. When a guy has this problem, he will try anything as long as it’s discreet.” Both men agree it’s important to have a supportive partner. “You don’t want them to do the pat on the head, ‘it will be okay’ thing,” Gary said. “I think you both have to be involved – or at least in my view – and be willing to look into this, and (his wife) was,” Alan added. “He needs to hear her say it in a way that portrays she really wants to be with him and wants him to get this taken care of because most guys want to get it fixed,” Farley said.

It’s the best thing I ever did
It’s a “fix” Gary said he wishes he had found sooner. “It took a while to get the nerve up to go,” he said. But because he’d heard about the center in Carmel so many times, “I thought it must be good. I tell everybody about it now; one of my brothers even went.” “It’s the best thing I ever did,” he said. Said his wife of 23 years, “I thought it was ridiculous when I first heard it, but it works. We are just really happy with it. Life isn’t such a drag. There is life after 50, and there are answers if you have the guts to get out and look for them.”