Zachariah Reitano was 17 when he realized something was wrong with his health. He suffered from a condition most often associated with boys three times his age: erectile dysfunction.
“It’s a very personal story for me,” Reitano said Men’s health. “I experienced erectile dysfunction when I was 17, but luckily I had a father who is a doctor and an expert in sexual health, so I felt comfortable telling him.”
It was the first sign for Reitano’s father that something could be seriously wrong with his son. ED can be a sign that something else could be going wrong in any man’s body at any age, including heart disease, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes, or even Parkinson’s disease. As a 2015 University of Mississippi study found, men with ED have a 70 percent increased risk of premature death.
Knowing this, Reitano’s father took him for a stress test, where his worst fears were confirmed when his son’s heart stopped beating in the doctor’s office. “My heart rate peaked at 220 and then basically just stopped,” he recalls. “I fell while I was training for them.”
Fortunately, his father and other medical professionals were on hand to bring him back to life. After heart surgery, Reitano was given drugs that had one serious side effect. As fate would have it, he had ED again.
Now, more than a decade after his own health scare, Reitano hopes to change the way men perceive ED and how they are treated for it.
“The experience is pretty bad,” Reitano said of what it’s like to get care for men’s sexual health. “I was hesitant to even go just because I was scared… I know it’s not supposed to be that way, but I recognized that in myself, so I wanted to see if we could help break down the barriers for other men. Reduce.”
That’s how he came up with the idea of Roman, a discreet, safe and efficient platform for boys to get the care they need for ED without the embarrassment of doctor visits or having to pick up medication from the pharmacy.
Reitano, along with co-founders Rob Schutz and Saman Rahmanian, built Roman as an end-to-end men’s personal health service that can handle everything from online diagnosis to administering medication for the 30 million men in the United States who suffer from from ED.
“Many men have the misconception that being tough means ignoring their health problems,” Reitano said. (He’s onto something — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over a two-year period, men are half as likely as women to see a doctor.)
To use Roman, prospective clients who believe they may be suffering from ED must complete a confidential five-minute online visit regarding their medical history. Any preference for a particular type of medication is noted.
The potential patient’s record is then reviewed by a US-licensed physician. If the doctor determines that the patient is not a good candidate for telehealth, such as if their health risk seems too great, or if they appear to be cruising for medication, they will not be charged. If the patient is approved after the first online consultation, you will be charged $15. The doctor will follow up if necessary and write a prescription if necessary. (You’ll have to pay for the medication separately, just like you would after a regular doctor’s visit.)
If you are prescribed medicines, they will be sent from the Roman Pharmacy Network and will be automatically replenished every month or every quarter. The drug comes in a sleek gray and red packaging that looks more like a vitamin pack than a bill bottle. Roman patients can ask questions to the app’s pharmacy and medical team at any time through a secure messaging platform.
It comes as no surprise that Roman has managed to raise more than $3 million in seed funding, including from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
“The men’s health market is huge and poorly served – there is no trusted brand for men,” Ohanian said in a statement shared with Men’s health. “I firmly believe in a next generation of brands like Roman, who are about to own entire segments thanks to great products and services designed for the digital age.”
Ultimately, Reitano wants to break the stigma surrounding ED.
3 ways to have hotter safe sex:
“It’s important that people don’t see themselves as, ‘Oh, I’m a guy with ED,'” he said. about.”
Want to know more about erectile dysfunction? Check out Mens’ Health’s guide to ED.
Stacey Leasca is a journalist from Rhode Island. She is a connoisseur of high-fives.