Although it is well established that erectile dysfunction affects men of all ages, most if not all of the marketing for ED medications has been geared towards older men...until now.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a slew of upstart mens health companies, including Hims and Roman have cropped up, and they're targeting a brand new segment of the market...20-55 year olds.
Why such a specific target audience? That’s because this is the biggest segment of the population that is regularly overlooked in traditional medicine. Younger men tend to be more hesitant to discuss their medical issues and reluctant to reach out to a doctor directly.
This hesitance means that many men’s health issues, including everything from hair loss to erectile dysfunction, tend to go undiagnosed and untreated until it’s too late.
This is particularly true of ED, which has long been the great unspoken secret among younger men in particular. The focus of the people behind the burgeoning trend of men’s wellness sites is ensuring that those men are provided with the medical attention and medication that they require…while they can still enjoy the results.
Online pharmacies have been around for quite some time, with the earliest sites aimed at providing birth control options. They evolved to include impotence, cholesterol, hair loss medications and more. Now you can pretty much get any medication, brand name or generic, with the click of a button.
The new wave of providers has separated themselves from the pack, catering to a specific, untapped audience rather than the broader or older demographic that the others do. And so far it has been quite successful.
Let's take a look at the players....
This hip, streamlined service addresses a number of medical concerns including hair and skin care, oral health (for issues like cold sores), and of course, sexual health, including erectile dysfunction.
The concept is simple: you access the app, answer some questions about your medical history and your current symptoms, then you’ll be connected directly to a qualified physician licensed in your state for an online consultation.
If, after talking with you, the doctor prescribes a medication you can then order it directly through the Hims site and have it delivered right to your door.
Fees for consultation are included in the service’s prices and prices for prescription medications like Viagra and Cialis vary depending on the pharmacy used but generally range between $20 - $25 per pill.
Unlike some other services, Hims focuses on an overall approach to wellness, which is why they include treatment for hair loss, skin care and general wellness issues such as anxiety, depression, and nutritional deficiencies.
You can get everything from Viagra to Propecia to anti-anxiety meds to daily multivitamins, all with the guidance of a licensed physician. They even offer a line of “merch” including sweaters, sweatshirts and candles to help you set the right mood and feel better by looking better.
Their entire marketing approach is targeted toward a young, hip audience, helping to draw in those busy professionals who prefer to have everything they need at their fingertips.
The advantages of their service are made clear; they offer a quick and easy way to get the healthcare you need in the comfort of your own home. No need to worry about a face to face consultation which may involve difficult conversations and may be hard to fit into your busy schedule. Now you can tailor your healthcare to meet your needs and avoid the high cost of office visits and insurance coverage.
Pricing is one of the major advantages to Hims. By manufacturing their own products and avoiding the high overhead of a physical retail space, Hims is able to offer much more affordable services while turning a larger profit, making it a win for everyone involved, according to an article at theoutline.com.
As encouraging as all of this might sound, Hims is not without its drawbacks. Though its overall prices are generally lower than the cost of traditional medicine, Hims does not accept insurance and they currently serve only 18 states in the U.S. so your ability to find a doctor licensed for your area may be limited.
The primary competition for Hims is Roman, which specifically targets treatment for impotence. As statistics at Roman’s site indicate, only 30% of men who experience ED actually get treated for it and in general men are 50% less likely to go to a doctor over a 2 year period.
With this mind, Roman was created to give men a discreet, convenient way to consult with a doctor and get treatment for ED and other issues including premature ejaculation and genital herpes.
They operate under the same general system as Hims, with visitors to the app answering a series of questions about their medical history and lifestyle and then being connected to a licensed doctor in their state for an online consultation.
If medications are prescribed they can be ordered through the app and will be delivered to your door in discreet packaging so that your privacy is maintained at all times while your health needs are properly addressed.
Because the folks behind Roman understand what a sticky subject men’s sexual health can be, they have put their focus on this area though they have recently expanded to include treatment for hair loss and help to quit smoking. But the real focus is on ED and sexual health since they understand that by avoiding treatment, young men can be putting their health in even more jeopardy.
According to a 2017 article in the New York Times, that’s something that Roman founder Zachariah Reitano understands first hand as his own erectile dysfunction turned out to be an early indicator of a serious heart condition.
Convenience is only one of the benchmarks at Roman though. With the budgetary limitations of the younger generation in mind, the app offers services with a consultation fee of just $15 and medication prices that range from $2-$63 per pill, depending on the individual medication and the pharmacy used.
Though their services aren’t covered by insurance, if one of their consulting physicians determines that you are not a good candidate for telemedicine the $15 consultation fee will be refunded in full, so there’s almost no financial liability involved.
While the services offered by Roman can be a literal life saver for younger men who are gun shy when it comes to traditional medicine, they are slightly more limited than their main competition. Since they are only available in states where their participating physicians are licensed, they currently only serve nine states but they are always open to expansion if there is enough customer demand.
Though Hims and Roman are the main providers at this moment, there are other, smaller wellness players getting into the act too.
These include Keeps, which specifically targets hair loss treatment and LemonAid, which offers a much wider spectrum of health services for both men and women, including everything from UTI treatment and birth control to hair loss and ED.
For a $25 fee you get a consultation with one of their doctors and if medication is prescribed you can get it directly through a local pharmacy.
Like the other sites, their services are only available in states where participating doctors are licensed, which can be limiting, but the cost is still far less than most insurance copays.
Of course with any of these relatively new services there are bound to be plenty of questions and concerns. Let's take a look at the most important ones:
1. Often, ED can be a symptom of an underlying issue and it’s worth considering whether an online consultation will really be comprehensive enough to treat the deeper problem. It might be something that only an in-person examination and proper testing can determine. So that's definitely something worth thinking about.
With the unique experience of their founders, Roman certainly understands this issue and will do everything they can to ensure that you are getting complete treatment. That being said, all of these apps warn that they are not meant to be a replacement for your primary care physician but rather a complement to your traditional health care.
The real answer seems to lie with the approach you take. Your health is important and while these wellness players certainly offer a convenient and affordable avenue, you still need to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to maintaining your health.
This may be a great way to encourage men who would otherwise be reluctant to seek medical care for their ED but as with most things in cyberspace it needs to be approached with the right amount of caution.
2. Which, of course, leads to one of the biggest issues with any type of online service…maintaining your privacy. This is particularly important when you are sharing personal healthcare information.
Naturally, all of these wellness players ensure their customers that they will go out of their way to protect their information, and that is backed up with HIPAA protection.
As with any information shared online, however, it can still be sold to third party entities to help target their marketing, which could be a cause for real concern.
3. The occasional erectile dysfunction is extremely common in younger individuals and is typically not a cause for concern. So one of the potential drawbacks to this new phenomenon is an increase in unnecessary prescriptions of ED medications. In that regard it may have been better for this segment of the population to be underserviced. There are so many potential contributing factors and rushing to take medication is often the wrong decision.
The bottom line in all this is that medicine is changing with the times and, if done properly, this can be a very good thing. Men’s wellness players are more than just a hip catch phrase. Though still in their infancy, they provide a significant opportunity to improve the way that young men approach their health. Caution is still the watchword here, but apps like Hims and Roman are giving young men plenty of cause for hope.
ED and other men’s sexual health issues have been kept hush hush for far too long and now that is finally changing. Expert medical help any time you need it in the comfort and privacy of your own home. It’s the wave of the future and it’s just waiting for today’s younger generation of men to get onboard.
But we would advise that you take proper caution and it's always good to keep your primary physician in the loop when it comes to your medical care.