THERE are plenty of ways to describe an erection, but finding the right words is tough when things are not getting as hard as planned down there.
Londonder Xander Gilbert, 33, not only found the right words to talk about it — he and his cousin Angus Barge, 31, from Edinburgh, launched a business helping men struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED).
Almost HALF of men have suffered with a form of ED at some point.
And Angus and Xander do not want anyone to struggle in silence.
Xander says: “Angus and I were on a long car journey to my parents’ place in Oxford around 2018 when he said he’d been struggling.
“He didn’t know I had been too.
“But we had a conversation — with both of us looking dead ahead or out the window — and both felt so much better for being honest.”
Their conversation did not end in the car. Drawing on Xander’s background in tech development and Angus’s experience in counselling and psychotherapy, the pair set up Mojo Men (mojo.so) in 2020. They have not looked back.
Xander says: “I started having problems in my early twenties.
“I had a couple of sexual encounters that gave me huge performance anxiety. I googled a lot about it but kept it to myself.
“When I met my girlfriend Alice in 2018, I decided to be honest.
“Before we got intimate, I told her I’d experienced it and that it happened sometimes.
“It was a pretty painful conversation but being upfront felt much better than worrying about what might happen.
“As it turned out, things between us were fine.
“But I think that’s largely because there wasn’t any anxiety on my side because I’d been open — something not many men are.
“The honesty must have worked because we welcomed our first child this year.”
It can also be difficult for women to talk about a partner’s problems — as Xander’s partner Alice Howood, 31, from Oxford, knows.
She says: “Xander was the first guy I’d been with who mentioned ED but I instantly admired the fact he’d been upfront about it.
“Women can sometimes feel it’s their fault — that maybe they’re not attractive enough. But that’s taking away from the issue itself.
“There’s a pressure to persevere and keep trying. But changing up what you do or finding intimacy in other ways can really help.”
Angus says of that conversation in the car: “I have no idea what made me open up to Xander
“It was awkward to begin with. I felt less alone when he said he’d been dealing with it too.”
SEE YOUR GP: “The first port of call should always be your GP to make sure ED isn’t a symptom of a bigger medical condition,” says Angus. “However, in almost all cases of erectile dysfunction there’s a psychological element that needs to be tackled.”
DON’T BLAME: “Whichever side of a relationship you are on, blaming yourself doesn’t help,” says Xander. “Men can pretend it hasn’t happened before, which doesn’t help anyone. ED is no one’s fault. It’s a health condition that needs to be sorted.”
FORGET PENETRATION: “We asked more than 100 women what their favourite part of sex was,” says Angus. “Not a single one said penetration. So if ED’s an issue, mix things up.”
TALK: “If you are in a relationship, talk about ED outside the bedroom,” says Xander. “If you are having occasional sexual encounters, consider mentioning it beforehand to reduce pressure on yourself when the time comes. It’s difficult to do but could really help you out.”
HONEST EXPECTATIONS: “Seventy-seven per cent of men access porn every month, which can give you an unrealistic version of sex,” says Angus. “It’s worth examining your habits and behaviours to see whether you’re putting pressure on yourself.”
REASSURE: “In a relationship, ED can make both of you feel vulnerable, and that’s when it becomes easy to start internalising,” says Angus. “Reassurance will go a very long way to helping both of you.”