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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Erectile dysfunction can signal other problems

Despite it being a common problem, erectile dysfunction (ED) can make a man feel embarrassed or alone. Seeing a health care provider about the condition is not only better for mental and sexual health, it could also reveal other underlying concerns.

As part of Men's Health Awareness Month coverage, Dr. Landon Trost, a Mayo Clinic urologist, talks about how ED can signal future trouble.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute


Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads at the end of the post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

You could call the penis a barometer for a man's health.

"If barometer pressure goes down, that indicates that storms are coming," says Dr. Trost. "When the penis and erectile function declines, that can also mean that other storms in your health are around the corner, as well."

These storms — or problems — can happen in organs that are made up of tissue similar to that of the penis.

"It has endothelia cells, which are kind of blood vessels, and it has a smooth muscle. These same types of cells are found in other organs in your body — so in your heart, in your brain and in your kidneys," says Dr. Trost.

He says erectile dysfunction can precede issues like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"So it does give you an early warning indicator and suggest that, in some cases, it's worthwhile to seek further evaluation," says Dr. Trost.

Although it's the last thing a man might want to discuss, Dr. Trost says ED is one of the first things he should bring up with his doctor.

"It's very, very common."

And it could be a signal there's a storm approaching.