MEN should treat erectile dysfunction as a red flag for underlying health issues such as heart disease, says the director of men's reproductive health association Andrology Australia.
Professor Rob McLachlan, an endocrinologist based at Monash University, is in Launceston for the association's men's health conference this weekend.
He said the association was committed to helping health professionals talk confidently and knowledgeably about male reproductive health, to encourage men to open up about their problems.
"If a man comes in (to his doctor) who's in his late 50s, complaining of erectile dysfunction, that fact alone gives him the same risk of a heart attack in the next five years as a smoker," he said.
"An erection is really just a blood vessel test of the arteries responsible.
"It's a reflex now to screen these men for chronic disease, because there can be other issues, so it's important men feel comfortable talking with their local doctor about it."
The conference will attract around 100 health professionals, and focus on current issues for men's health, including the use of performance enhancing drugs, body image issues and new fathers experiencing post-natal depression.
The conference began yesterday afternoon with a workshop for 30 GPs on the top three men's health issues: sexual difficulty, prostate disease and hormone deficiency.