A man talks to his doctor at an appointment.
If you have erectile dysfunction, a conversation with your doctor can be the first step toward a solution. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million men, including 1 in 4 in the under-40 crowd.

For men in the dating scene, the problem can feel like a nerve-racking and significant hurdle.

There are some tips, however, to ease the stress and make dating with ED a more successful experience, says John Humphrey, MD, a urologist who specializes in men’s health for Spectrum Health Medical Group.

The first is communication.

Tell a potential sexual partner about the problem as soon as the possibility of sex arises, Dr. Humphrey said.

“Typically when a man would want to bring this up is as soon as intimacy or sexual intercourse would be contemplated in a relationship,” Dr. Humphrey said. “Then you can gauge whether that person is supportive or not. And then you can decide whether or not you want to be with that person.

“You say to them, ‘I have this problem that I’m working on, and I hope you would help me work on it together because it’s kind of a team sport.”

If you don’t have that talk, your partner may assume blame for the issue, which can put a strain on a potential relationship, Dr. Humphrey said.

This point leads to the doctor’s next tip: Education is key.

If it’s more than dating—if you’re in a relationship with someone—bring your partner to a doctor’s appointment. The doctor’s explanations will reinforce the notion that it’s a solvable medical problem. This should also make your partner less apt to take any blame for the condition.

Lastly, men should make sure they’re visiting their doctor.

“The risk factors for a lot of health problems are the same risk factors for erectile dysfunction: heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol (and) smoking,” Dr. Humphrey said. “It can be a vicious cycle—dysfunction leads to stress, which leads to dysfunction going forward.”

See a doctor regularly, he said.

“Tell them if you experience a problem, and then they can help you,” he said.