The classic “internet disruption” model has seemingly at a very sensitive topic for men: erectile dysfunction.
Tuesday marked the launch of Roman, a startup aimed at men’s sexual health, and the company promises to handle everything from online diagnosis to delivery of medication for specific conditions, Roman tells Inverse by email.
“Our first product will help treat the 30 million men in the United States who suffer from erectile dysfunction,” the company, which raised $3.1 million in seed funding, announced. It will be available in New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida, as healthcare laws are up to individual states.
“Hopefully sharing my story will make more guys comfortable sharing their health problems with their physician and their partner,” 26-year-old co-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano tells Inverse.
When Reitano was 17, he experienced erectile dysfunction, unusual for someone his age. He came to realize this happens frequently to men at every age.
“My reaction was absolute confusion and frustration,” he writes in Medium post published on Tueday, before choosing a creative way to describe what happens naturally: “I had been like most young men; a light breeze would send me calculating square roots to fend off the consequences of my adolescent mind.”
A trustworthy source for online ED medication is desperately needed. A 2011 study by Viagra manufacturer Pfizer found 77 percent of the drug sold online is counterfeit.
But Roman’s mission isn’t just about ED treatment through the Internet — it’s about preventative care first and foremost.
“Our technology lowers the barriers that often prevent men from seeking treatment, like the embarrassment of talking about the strength of your erection with a doctor,” said Reitano. “With our technology, guys can discretely and safely get treatment for their ED right from their own couch.”
Not to mention, it’s a way to start a dialogue with a physician to improve their overall health.
According to the company, here are the are the three steps to getting your medication through its platform.
1) Diagnose: Men complete a confidential five minute dynamic online visit about their medical history, guided by the Ro-Bot telehealth assistant. The questions in the online visit are not static, they change person-to-person based on previous answers. Any preference for a particular type of ED medication is noted. Identity is also verified by taking a photo and showing ID.
2) Prescribe: A U.S. licensed physician will review the questions, follow up if necessary, and write a prescription if appropriate.
3) Deliver: The ED meds will be shipped discreetly (for free) from the Roman Pharmacy Network and will refill automatically every month or quarter. This eliminates the need to have to pester a doctor to call in another ED prescription.
Men just don’t keep up with their healthcare as much as women tend to, the company says: “We wanted to call out that right now, men simply aren’t going to a doctor whether because of inconvenience, machismo or a series of other reasons,” the company said.
“When I tell people I co-founded a men’s health company, their first reaction is ‘Why?” Reitano writes in a Medium post that’s complete with Anchorman GIF. “When I then tell them our first product will help treat men who experience erectile dysfunction, their reaction is silence.”
Statistically, men don’t see a doctor for checkups, the company said. Often, a diminished erection is the first sign of a much more serious problem like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, depression, or others.
The company also stresses treating ED isn’t just a male problem, but a sexual health one.
“For us, it’s important to note that ED isn’t a gender issue – ED is a condition that affects two partners.”
If you liked this article, check out this video that explains why evolution wants you to masturbate more.