Man shares how erectile dysfunction in his twenties crushed his confidence
From the outside, Champ Imi seems like he has it all.
As an award-winning fashion model and sex symbol, in his twenties Champ was enjoying huge success modelling for brands in Japan, Thailand, and Italy.
But when he split up from the woman he loved, Champ began to experience a secret turmoil.
When he tried to move on and have sex with another woman, he found himself unable to perform, experiencing erectile dysfunction at just 22 years old.
Champ, of Manchester, was absolutely crushed.
He said: ‘I was doing a lot of work where I showed off my muscles. I was meant to be this God of War-style character, who was powerful and strong.
‘But, when it came to having sex, I just couldn’t do it. I was thinking: “Oh my God, what is happening to me?” It was so surreal.’
The struggle to perform in the bedroom made Champ, now 28, ‘afraid of having sex’.
‘I was happy to kiss possible partners, but would make excuses so we didn’t go home together,’ he explains.
‘It became imprinted in my mind that I couldn’t have sex, so I avoided it.’
Speaking out to mark International Men’s Day today (November 19) and in support of Upjohn, Men’s Health Forum and relationships expert Sarah Louise Ryan’s Time to Raise It campaign, which aims to remove the shame and stigma associated with erectile problems, Champ wants men to stop suffering in silence.
His erectile problems began when he broke up from his former fiancée, with whom he had a ‘really intense relationship’.
In 2014 he moved in with his aunt before travelling to Pakistan, then moving to London to dive back into the dating scene.
He began seeing a woman from Birmingham and developed strong feelings for her, and was heartbroken to discover he couldn’t maintain an erection when they tried to have sex.
This went on for four months and eventually they broke up, having not ‘properly’ had sex for the entire relationship.
Champ, who believes the stress caused by his heartbreak triggered his erectile problems, said he became increasingly depressed and anxious about his sexual performance, but was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
He said: ‘It was a horrible feeling. It’s one of the worst things you can imagine.
‘You’re meant to be taking advantage of your youth, but your manhood is saying no to you.
‘Seeing a woman’s face change when she realised I couldn’t perform was awful.
‘Most women I dated were very kind and would say, “No, no don’t worry about it. It happens”.
‘But there were times when I could tell they didn’t mean it, which made me feel much worse.
‘It was also very awkward if I met them again and it’s not a pleasant situation to be in.’
Eventually Champ realised he needed to speak to someone. At first he tried to pretend he was talking about a friend, but when this didn’t work, Champ told a pal the truth during a drunken night out in 2015.
He said: ‘I spoke freely, as I knew he wouldn’t remember anything, as he’d been drinking.
‘But I was amazed when he was really honest with me and told me his own problems with erectile problems.
‘After that, I spoke to him again when he was sober and felt so much more at ease, knowing it wasn’t just me who this had happened to.’
That removal of shame had a dramatic impact. As soon as Champ began to relax and to understand the emotional cause of the issues, his problems with intimacy disappeared.
Now enjoying a relationship with a girlfriend who would prefer to stay anonymous, Champ is feeling like himself again.
But he wants to share his story to encourage men to speak up, and to take away the shame of erectile dysfunction.
He said: ‘When I have sex now, it’s fine. I’ve prepared my mind for it and I accept that there’s nothing wrong with me in any way.
‘Now I want other men with erectile problems to come forward. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to get help. It’s a very natural thing and there’s a solution to it. Rather than blaming yourself, discuss it with your doctor, or at least a friend and speak about it.
‘There is no shame in it and I know that if I’d been more open and honest about my own erectile problems, I wouldn’t have felt as bad as I did.
‘So, speak up and be true to yourself.’
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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