Erectile dysfunction is the difficulty or inability to get an erection. Many men experience ED at some stage in their lives, and it can often be due to stress. However, frequent impotence may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed and treated. Most often, ED can be a sign of emotional or psychological issues that require professional attention.
What are the Symptoms of Impotence?
You may be suffering from erectile dysfunction if you regularly have trouble getting or keeping an erection during sex with your partner. Other symptoms include premature or delayed ejaculation, reduced interest in sexual intercourse, or the inability to reach orgasm.
What are the Potential Complications of ED?
The potential complications that come with impotence are significant and can severely affect a man’s quality of life. Those suffering from ED may also experience:
- Relationship problems
- Low self-esteem
- Dissatisfaction with their sex life.
Forms of Erectile Dysfunction
There are two types of erectile dysfunction: physical and psychological. The latter is becoming more common by the day and is responsible for 10% to 20% of all ED cases. Many psychological factors can contribute to impotence, including sexual trauma or childhood abuse. However, the most common causes of ED are stress at work or home, anxiety, and depression.
If you are experiencing performance-related anxiety or have a fear of not being able to perform in bed, this may worsen your ED problem. Guilt is another factor, as you may feel that you do not satisfy your partner in bed. This guilt can often lead to short-term or long-term depression. Unfortunately, anti-depressants can sometimes lead to sexual dysfunction too. A prolonged ED problem can lead to low self-esteem as you are likely to feel inadequate in bed.
There are different tests that your doctor may carry out to determine the main cause of your erection problems. These tests can include a complete blood test, hormone level tests, or urine analysis to measure the testosterone and protein levels in your urine. Your doctor will also talk to you about your mental health.
A mental health examination may help treat your condition if your doctor finds that your symptoms are mostly related to stress or psychological issues. This is done by revealing all the possible psychological factors that may be affecting your performance. Your partner will also likely be interviewed by the physician to determine his or her perceptions during sex. If suitable, your doctor may recommend prescription treatment for ED. However, your doctor will likely refer you to a licensed therapist to address your emotional and mental health issues.
There are two indications that will likely determine if you are suffering from psychological ED. These are:
- Can you get an erection in the morning?
Erections frequently occur during sleep. Sleep is often linked to the autonomic nervous system, which is divided into the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. During the rapid eye movement phase of sleep, the body’s organs, including the erectile tissue of the penis, are all triggered. As a result, the tissues fill up with blood and make the penis firm. As the final REM phase occurs just before you wake up, you will frequently experience an erection. But what if this doesn’t happen? The parasympathetic nerves that trigger the blood to fill up in the tissue aren’t able to make the penis erect due to a psychological issue, such as anxiety or stress. Most men with psychological problems will find morning erections becoming less frequent or stopping altogether, even though they are physically capable of having them.
- Are you able to get an erection while alone?
If the answer is yes, then the main cause of your problem is probably in your mind as you’re physically capable of getting an erection but struggle when you’re with your partner. Perhaps you went through childhood trauma or abuse and feel ashamed of what happened to you in the past. Prolonged emotional distress related to financial, social, or family issues may also contribute to impotence.
Erection problems are widespread in men of all ages. When you become aware of the warning signs, speak to your doctor or a licensed therapist at BetterHelp. He or she will help you to dig deep into the underlying causes of your impotence, and help you find the treatment that works best for you. If you find that traditional counseling is too costly, you may also benefit from online therapy.
Image courtesy of Alexander Cornejo