After successfully overcoming his own problems with erectile dysfunction through a self-devised solution, Max Kersting is now changing the reality for men around the world, tackling both the intimate health issue itself and the stigma that persists around it. Health Tech World meets the CEO and founder of pioneering app Regimen
Through the creation of Regimen, the the world’s first CE-certified digital health programme for erectile dysfunction, a holistic plan of action now exists to enable men to take control of their own chronic health issue – an issue so widespread it is estimated to affect half of all men at some point in their lives.
In use around the world, with particularly strong take-up in the United States, UK, Switzerland and Max’s native Germany, Regimen delivers a host of resources via app – exercises, health and nutrition information, mindfulness training and other wellbeing actions – which enable men to devise their own personalised solution.
Devised in collaboration with urologist Dr Wolf Beecken – a former Harvard Medical School researcher and pharmaceutical advisor, who became a co-founder of the business – and an array of other world-leading medical experts, Regimen is backing up its work with huge volumes of data and is running a clinical trial to demonstrate its impact.
Now working with tens of thousands of men globally, with the impending launch of a programme for medical professionals to refer their patients, Regimen has become the trusted resource Max wishes he could have accessed as a 19-year-old man forced to deal with the trauma of erectile dysfunction.
“I recognised my erection was weaker and often had trouble getting it up at all. I thought maybe I’m just stressed. It took me a lot of courage to go and see my GP but he didn’t take me seriously. A lot of younger patients aren’t taken seriously. It’s very frustrating when you know something doesn’t feel OK,” says Max.
“I’ve seen so many urologists through the years and seeking help became a really long odyssey and the treatment became more and more invasive. I got pretty desperate.”
Having undergone two unsuccessful rounds of surgery alongside administering his own penile injections, Max was given a bleak outlook.
“At some point, the doctor said to me I wouldn’t have erections, deal with it or get an implant. I thought ‘F*** you all’. I studied political science at university but started to read medical journals in the library and found two doctors, one of whom is now my co-founder, who helped me create a programme,” he says.
“It was a holistic programme, I’d try everything, anything with any scientific backing that could help. It brought in supplements, pelvic floor training, change of diet, I invested a lot of time in this but the change started to happen.”
Happily, despite the medical prognosis given to Max aged only 21, he was able to overcome his erectile dysfunction through his self-devised solution.
“I did it for two-and-a-half years, although Viagra started working for me more than a year earlier, but I kept following the programme worried it would all fall apart. That was more than ten years ago for me now. Now, I am engaged and am super happy.”
Having successfully devised his own programme, two years ago Max’s attention turned to how he could use his own experience to help other men address such a significant health issue – aside from the physical, mental and emotional consequences of erectile dysfunction, it can also be a warning of cardiovascular problems, with a 60 per cent higher risk of heart disease and 30 per cent higher risk of heart attack.
“I’d discovered a better way for myself, and Wolf could see himself helping with this. Erectile dysfunction affects 50 per cent of men at some point in their lives, and while Viagra might work for 60 to 70 per cent of people, it doesn’t work for 30 to 40 per cent – and that’s a lot of people,” says Max.
“It’s not to say don’t use pills, pills were an important part of my journey, but it’s to help people understand they could try other things. Viagra can be a crutch. If someone has depression and you could try psychotherapy or antidepressants, it shouldn’t be that you just defer to pills.
“We are trying to integrate other forms of treatment so we are holistic.”
Through the creation of Regimen, Max is redefining the outlook for so many men with erectile dysfunction, challenging the concept of ‘quick fix’ solutions to support men to change their lives in a more holistic way.
But one area in which the challenge is ongoing is in removing the stigma around discussing erectile dysfunction – something that persists despite it being such a common occurrence for men of all ages everywhere in the world.
“I aim for people to openly talk about it, so we can really de-stigmatise it and people feel they can go to the doctor,” says Max.
“I’ve become the go-to person for my friends to talk to and ask ‘Is this normal’? People need to feel safe to share this. But through doing this, I have found that many people don’t even talk to their intimate partners about it.
“It’s weird that in a society where 50 per cent of the male population will experience erectile dysfunction, we don’t talk about it. I think this is reflected in popular culture. How often is it reflected in Hollywood movies? Sex is always so great there.
“I do feel really inspired by the work our trans community has done. A couple of years ago they were the target of toxic jokes, but they’ve really owned that with Pride, there is so much to learn from that. We need to participate in this conversation and the change that is happening and take control of our intimate health.”
Regimen was selected as a participant on the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme for 2020-21 to help advance the growth of the business further still.
“The UK has one of the most progressive guidelines around erectile dysfunction and wanted to understand how we could fit into a public health system. I have experience in building products, not in working with health systems, but the Accelerator offers us as a team insights into where we are on our journey and how we can get to where we want to be,” says Max.
“This has actually been an almost transformational journey, and has shown us why this matters not just to the people who use our app, but to people in healthcare who make budget-driven decisions. That is extremely valuable for a business like ours.”
- The Digital.London Accelerator programme 2021-22 is now open for entries. For more information or to apply, visit here