Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a characterized by a regular inability to obtain and/or maintain an erect penis during sexual activity. Psychological factors account for 10-20% of all erectile dysfunction cases and are often secondary components in situations where physical causes of the dysfunction are present. [showmyads] Though psychogenic erectile dysfunction is commonly linked to childhood abuse or sexual trauma, physically healthy men who experienced no trauma during childhood also suffer from this ailment. Let us consider some of the common causes of psychological erectile dysfunction and practical ways in which sufferers can find a measure of relief.
Stress is one common cause of ED and can result from various situations, including relationship and family problems, financial difficulties and challenges on the job. Reduced sexual performance can lead to feelings of guilt over not being able to satisfy one’s partner. This, in turn, can cause a couple’s sexual activity to decrease. Avoiding sex, however, is not an effective solution for dealing with psychological erectile dysfunction. If a couple is not having sex regularly, this can cause both members to “fall out of a routine of intimate touch and then it becomes very anxiety-producing to get back into bed with each other” (Thomas, 2010). Both partners will feel a measure of performance anxiety and will be under pressure to make it the “best sex ever” as sexual encounters becomes less frequent.
Men who suffer from depression and have low self-esteem might also develop ED. The “lack of interest” that characterizes victims of depression can infiltrate their sex lives causing depressed men to lose interest in their partners and in sex. Medication used to treat depression can act as a double-edged sword where ED is concerned. While these drugs might be effective in combatting depression, they might also contribute to loss of libido.
Sufferers of psychological erectile dysfunction are encouraged to talk about the issue with their partners. Topics such as increasing sex frequency, personal likes and dislikes, etc., can have a profound effect on increasing satisfaction and performance. Slowing down the love-making process and focusing on your partner’s needs and desires can help shift the focus away from yourself (and your penis). Men should also endeavor not to become embroiled with pornography, which can numb the brain’s normal response to pleasure (Robinson & Wilson, 2011), and should avoid unrealistic sexual fantasies as this can lead to unreasonable expectations (and disappointment) from their partners (Thomas, 2010).
Men with psychological erectile dysfunction often find it difficult to discuss the matter openly. No man ever wants to feel as if he is not living up to his manhood, but healthy and encouraging discourse with one’s partner and/or a sex therapist is essential for finding and fixing the source of the problem.
Robinson, M., & Wilson, G. (2011). Porn-induced sexual dysfunction is a growing problem. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201107/porn-induced-sexual-dysfunction-is-growing-problem
Thomas, L. (2010). Healing erectile dysfunction. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/save-your-sex-life/201011/healing-erectile-dysfunction
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