One in two men is affected by impotence at some point in their lives, with alcohol to blame more often than not, a new British survey has revealed.
The sensitive nature of the subject means that many suffer in silence, with devastating consequences for their self-esteem and relationships, reports the Daily Mail.
The taboo topic has been brought into the open by Boots, which carried out a survey of 4,500 men.
The chemist chain found that 19 per cent have struggled to make love when sober - while a further 31 per cent have suffered problems after a boozy night out.
Some 68 per cent of those polled also owned up to having experienced premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.
Many said their sexual problems had caused their self-esteem to plummet.
Two-thirds of married men said they would refuse to discuss the issue with their doctor and one in eight was so embarrassed that he would not talk about it with anyone.
"Although extremely widespread, the taboo nature of these problems means that most sufferers do not seek help," Colm O'Mahony, consultant physician in sexual health at Chester Hospital, said.
"Stigma, shame, concern for their partner's reaction, and sometimes denial, all play a part.
"Many endure in silence, believing that the problem is transient, and that no help is available.
"It can be crushing. Guys get worn down and when you fix them, the change in their demeanour is dramatic.
"The woman will say she has got her cheerful, friendly husband back, instead of a morose, grumpy chap," O'Mahony said.
Sexual problems are most common among older men, with causes including obesity, smoking, alcohol, stress, medication and hardening of the arteries.
Psychologist Dr Pam Spurr said that women can also be left feeling their partner no longer finds them attractive, adding: "There is a great big silence - there is an elephant sitting in the bedroom."
Robert Gilbert, of Boots, which has launched a men's sexual wellbeing range, said: "It's concerning that so many men are suffering in silence. We urge men to talk to their partners and seek help from their pharmacist or GP."