Embarrassment biggest barrier to sexual health access among men

New research released recently reveals the need for pharmacists to better support men around discussing sexual health concerns.

Research from men’s health brand, Stud 100, shows that 49% of Australian men are too embarrassed to ask for help from a pharmacist about their sexual health concerns.

The research also indicates that although the majority of Australian men know that there are treatments available for issues such as premature ejaculation, only 22% claim that they would have the confidence to seek treatment or advice from a pharmacist about the condition.

“As a sexual health specialist, I see many men struggling to deal with premature ejaculation. Although, more men are informed about the condition and treatment as they have access to information online, embarrassment remains the biggest barrier to men seeking timely help,” says Dr Michael Lowy, Sexual Health Physician at Sydney’s Men’s Health.

“Premature ejaculation has an impact on men both physically and psychologically, and it’s important that we all play our role in making sure these men get the advice and support they need.”

Opportunity for pharmacists

The findings show that there is an opportunity for pharmacists to improve consultations with men on sexual health issues.

According to the research, elements of the pharmacy and interactions with pharmacists can be a deterrence for men in seeking help, with 36% men reporting that they would delay asking for help if there were other people around that might hear the conversation.

31% men reported they would avoid asking for help if the pharmacist was female and a further 19% men say they would delay or stop seeking treatment or advice from a pharmacist as a result of fear that they may be judged.

“It’s important for pharmacists to understand the barriers that stop men from seeking help for their sexual health concerns,” says Consultant to Key Pharmaceuticals, George Krassas.

“This will help pharmacists create the right environment that allows men to feel comfortable to discuss these delicate issues.

“Men come into the pharmacy looking for reassurance and trusted expert advice about treatment; however, initiating conversations about conditions like premature ejaculation can be daunting for them.

“Pharmacists are in the perfect position to help men by building trust and supporting open discussion to weigh-up the pros and cons of different management options for their sexual health concerns.”

Top tips for pharmacists   

In response to the research, Mr Krassas suggests the following tips when consulting with customers on their sexual health:

  1. Increase staff training: Consider sexual health as part of your ongoing staff training.
  2. Prepare the right questions: Develop a question check list for pharmacists to guide consultations with customers. This can include questions to understand the nature of their issue, its impact on their life and relationships, treatment history and desired outcomes.
  3. Build Trust: Set a protocol on how to conduct a discreet consultation in a busy pharmacy. For example, take the customer to a more private area within the pharmacy, such as a consulting room or a quieter place away from the dispensary counter.
  4. Know what’s available: To provide trusted advice, keep up to date with treatment news. Ensure premature ejaculation products, such as Stud 100, are accessible for self-selection front of shop with other sexual health items including condoms and lubricants.
  5. Build your credibility: Look for opportunities to highlight your knowledge in this sexual health space, whether it be in pharmacy communications materials or using your pharmacy’s online and social media platforms.