Wood. Boner. Pitching a tent... There are many fun and poetic ways to call an erection, however, not one decent phrase comes to mind for describing the dreadful moment your buddy refuses to rise to the occasion. Except maybe for that sad trombone sound, you know the one.
Erectile dysfunction is its official name, and it affects more than 50% of men in all age groups, all being the keyword here as it is still primarily – and falsely – thought that ED is an old man's problem.
It's not, and 26-year-old Zachariah Reitano knows it firsthand. Reitano's experience with erectile dysfunction started when he was still in high school and, in a chain of events, lead to him being diagnosed with larger heart issues. Years later, his own journey inspired Reitano to build a company that tackles erectile dysfunction and the misconceptions surrounding the issue.
In a nutshell, Reitano's co-founded startup Roman is a "full-stack men's health company providing online diagnosis and discreet shipping of safe, legal ED medication." In other words, it's Viagra, Cialis and other erectile dysfunction meds delivered to your door. But Zachariah and his teammates, Saman Rahmanian and Rob Schutz, want to make it more than that.
"The stigma is real. Only 18–30% of men who experience ED receive treatment. [...] Worse yet, they try to solve the problem without talking to a doctor.
80% of all Viagra purchased online is counterfeit and it contains things like printer ink, paint, and floor wax. Imagine the situation you would have to be in for you to put that in your body, for you to feel that this is your 'best' option."
And it doesn't end with boner issues. According to Reitano, a simple research done by him and his colleagues revealed how dire the state of men's health really is. "Men are often told to 'rub some dirt on it and walk it off' when experiencing health issues. This fragile masculinity prevents them from seeking medical attention, especially when it comes to their own manhood," Zachariah tells Konbini.
Creating Roman was their first step towards the goal of educating people about ED – the company increases access to medication, makes it more convenient and cost-effective. But it's Reitano, Rahmanian and Schutz' latest move is that has everyone talking – the guys launched an app that literally wants you to log every time you wake up with an erection.
It's aptly titled Morning Glory and uses fun, entertainment-based activities to introduce the topic of erectile dysfunction into men's lives. Basically, each morning guys have to open the app and check if they woke up with or without morning wood. Reitano explains:
"Sometimes you have to add a little humor to a serious topic in order to make people pay attention to it.
We took something everyone is aware of – an erection – but may not understand the importance attached to it, and offered an aha moment. With a simple push notification, we made people become more aware of their wellbeing."
Three days in a row and you get a "boner streak." No erection? The app will give you tips on what to do next and even offer a free phone consultation with one of Roman's approved physicians. The app's main intention is to show people how their simplest life choices correlate with their sexual health. As Reitano puts it:
"Erectile dysfunction [...] is a man’s equivalentto a car’s check engine light. [...] A strong erection requires so many different systems of your body to be working in perfect harmony.
For starters, your hormones must be released on demand, your arteries need to carry blood to the penis with perfect efficiency, your nervous system must transmit its signals without a hitch, and your mind and your body need to be in sync..."
What Zachariah – and all medical professionals – is saying is that a diminished erection isn't always just that. Sure, sometimes it can be hard to get it up after a night of heavy drinking, sometimes stress overtakes us and it's just not possible to get properly aroused, and yet sometimes, it can signal far more serious conditions ranging from diabetes to heart diseases, obesity, depression and so on.
You can download Morning Glory via iTunes.
Cover image by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash