Pfizer has taken an unconventional approach to increase the awareness of the rising signs of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in men younger than 40 years, by launching the H4RDNESS MATTERS campaign. This tongue-in-cheek approach to help men open up to the ‘manly’ topic aims to break the social stigma around men’s sexual health by creating opportunities for open conversation among the younger male population with healthcare professionals.
With Malaysian favorite stand-up comedian – Dr. Jason Leong along with a consultant urologist and a clinical sexologist, the campaign was launch with a talk show hosted by emcee, Bernie Chan, entitled “H4RD TALK: In Bed with Dr. Jason Leong” to dissect issues of ED among Malaysian with the audience in a fun and non-threatening environment to cast a light upon the importance of H4RDNESS in men’s sexual health.
H4RDNESS MATTERS for a healthy sexual life. According to the Erection Hardness Score (EHS), Grade 4 H4RDNESS is the optimal erection that men should strive to achieve to enjoy sex thoroughly and satisfy their partners where the penis is completely hard and rigid. Levels of sex satisfaction are strongly associated with erection H4RDNESS. Study showed that satisfaction with sex was significantly greater for men and women with partners who experienced Grade 4 compared to those who achieved Grade 3 of erection H4RDNESS . Additionally, men with a lower EHS grade or suboptimal erections experienced significantly lower levels of satisfaction with all aspects of the sexual experience, compared with men with Grade 4 or optimal H4RDNESS erection.
Other than affecting sexual function, ED can often be the symptom of underlying and serious medical causes that require attention and treatment. “While many view ED as only a sexual health problem, ED is often associated with other comorbid conditions including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and depression, many of which have a number of the same vascular risk factors . Study has even proven that ED is a strong indicator of premature mortality as men with ED had a 70% increased risk of early death , which is why it is important that men who suffer from ED come forward to receive diagnosis and treatment early,” said Prof. George Lee, PhD Consultant Urologist from Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
Dr. Martha Tara Lee, a clinical sexologist and founder of Eros Coaching said that opening the lines of communication around ED can be challenging but it is crucial that men do not shut their sex partners out while dealing with ED. “Discussing with your spouse or partner about ED may be awkward at first, but chances are it won’t be a shock to them. It is never easy to initiate the conversations around ED, men are reluctant to admit he can’t get a hard-on, but not discussing about it can inflict devastating damage on a relationship,” she explained.
Together with communication, intimacy plays an important part in a sexual and healthy relationship. ED can rob the intimacy between couples when men experience low sexual self-confidence as a result of their erection problems. Changes in ED patients’ sexual behavior is then often mistakenly interpreted by woman that her partner is having an affair or no longer sexually attractive to them. “When going through ED, couples should be open-minded about keeping the intimacy alive in a relationship while trying to overcome ED,” said Dr. Martha Tara Lee.
Despite many educational and outreach initiatives, ED is still a taboo subject in Malaysia that many men are uncomfortable to talk about openly. Prof. George Lee, PhD added “as ED could indicate future cardiovascular issues, discussing about the subject is merely a process of treating the symptom and reduce severe health risks. Especially among younger men today, they need to understand that ED is not a natural part of ageing and with the stressful lifestyle a lot of urban males are leading, ED is a common phenomena. Although ED’s frequency does increase with age, it is treatable with medication or by making healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising, curbing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and changing eating habits. ED does not signal doom for men, their partners or their relationships.”
Men suffering from ED should also refrain from self-medicating with uncertified solutions or rely on information from the internet just so you can avoid the discussion with your healthcare professional. “One of the issues in evaluating patients today is patients often may have self-diagnosed and self-medicated based on the information that they obtained prior to seeing a healthcare professional. This is dangerous because a lot of the information you receive on the internet are not all reliable or medications you obtain through unscrupulous sources contain uncertified or perilous active ingredients,” he explained.
During the H4RD Talk event, Pfizer Malaysia revealed three visuals under the HARDNESS MATTERS campaign, characterized by ideals of manliness to fuel men’s desire to rise above flaccid situations and regain their confidence in bed. These visuals are inspired by relatable iconic heroes that boys from every strata grew up idolizing for their masculine traits.
As part of the campaign initiative, Pfizer has also launched “THE H4RDEST QUIZ”, a thematic online quiz to engage the public with fun, tongue-in-cheek shareable contents for them to learn more about sexual health and to encourage men to discuss openly about the subject. THE H4RDEST QUIZ is available at https://www.menshealth.com.my/.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects one in five Malaysian men and is listed as one of the most common sexual health problems in Malaysia. While ED is commonly viewed as a condition of older men, research has shown that one out of four men who seek medical care for ED is younger than 40 years. The condition is becoming increasingly more common in younger men with about 30% of the population is expected to be living with undiagnosed ED.
Regardless of age, ED often tops the list of sexual health problems that many men find embarrassing to discuss and often viewed as a taboo topic. To men, their masculinity is threatened, and ego comes into play whenever talking about ED, which contributes to the low prevalence rate and non-medical seeking behavior of Asian males with respect to men’s health.