Nurse wants residents to talk about erectile dysfunction. Lesley Mills, a consultant nurse in sexual dysfunction (2016)

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It's Valentine's Day and a consultant nurse at Warrington Hospital wants to get residents talking about erectile dysfunction. February 14 is traditionally seen as a day for romantics, but scores of men across Warrington will experience trouble in the bedroom today.

Lesley Mills, a consultant nurse in sexual dysfunction at Warrington Hospital, says the problem can be psychological as much as it is physical.

She said: “You have people with a physical problem and then the psychological factor as well.

“There was a big campaign about if your waist circumference is over 40 inches for every inch above you have a much bigger increase in getting erectile dysfunction.

“If you can be healthier or do exercise it can prevent you from developing that.

“You will always have a psychological factor – if you think I didn’t get an erection the last time I tried the next time that will be in your mind.

“It’s about educating people to understand and teaching people how to get over those psychological influences.

“In Warrington we have a psycho-sexual counsellor at Bath Street and they provide psycho-sexual counselling for couples and individuals which some areas don’t have.”

Sexual dysfunction can be a signal of more serious underlying health problems, as Lesley explained.

Around 40 per cent of men over the age of 40 will experience erectile dysfunction, and in people with underlying condition the number shoots up.

She said: “Erectile dysfunction is almost a red flag now – if someone goes into their GP with erection problems they will automatically check them for heart disease, diabetes and their blood pressure because it’s a precursor for that.”

Lesley’s patients have ranged from 18 to as old as 92, and she says that internet pornography has become a big factor in increasing levels of erectile dysfunction in younger people.

She said: “I do a lot of teaching around sexual dysfunction and 10 years ago I wouldn’t even mention porn, whereas now it is a really big factor.

“Young people tend to think that that’s what normal sex is and it isn’t necessarily – it’s almost taking it back to romance, it isn’t is about hardcore sex that a lot of young people think is normal.

“I get young lads coming in who can’t get an erection because they’re so used to watching porn that they can’t have one in front of their partner because they’re desensitized.”

Erectile dysfunction can cause serious confidence issues in both patients and their partners.

Lesley, who has worked at Warrington Hospital for 19 years, added: “You see people who will avoid relationships or trying to get into a relationship because they know that they have a physical problem and it puts a barrier up.

“It’s sometimes about getting their confidence back that they can get an erection and that’s where psycho-sexual counselling comes in as well.

“I see so many couples and it could be a major problem for the partner but not for the patient – so many people come in and say my husband’s gone off me and it’s not necessarily about that.”

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14th February 2016, By Adam Everett