The Psychology of Erectile Dysfunction

Written by Dave Rich

On June 22, 2010

When a man struggles with erectile dysfunction, the first thought he may have is to ask the doctor for a prescription. The problem with that is it’s only a quick fix. A bottle of little blue pills may make a man’s penis hard, but it will do nothing to address the underlying cause of the problem. Believe it or not, there’s an underlying erectile dysfunction psychology at work here.

Many men living with impotence are struggling with anxiety, not a medical problem. This article will explain the best ways to tackle the problem from the inside out before resorting to prescription pills. For men whose erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical disability, vascular constriction or other issues, medication might be just the ticket to matching physical ability with mental desire.

The Two Key Ingredients for a Positive Sexual Encounter

A man’s penis only needs two ingredients to become hard and ready for sexual intercourse: Arousal and relaxation. When either of these natural functions are somehow interrupted or interfered with, a man may experience erectile dysfunction.

When a man is suddenly unable to perform, he may begin avoiding sex altogether. When a couple doesn’t have sex at least two times in a one-month period, the anxiety grows. Sex is no longer spontaneous and fulfilling. It can begin to feel like a chore for both partners. This may result in a slow loss of other intimate gestures such as everyday kissing, caressing, etc. Suddenly you’re both living like roommates and wondering how it got that way.

Because of this, men already experiencing erectile dysfunction may find themselves dealing with even more performance anxiety as a result of loss of confidence. They may perceive the sudden lack of touch or intimacy to be a direct reflection on his ability to perform. And on the same token, his partner may believe avoiding intimate touching is a good way to put less pressure on him. It’s a vicious cycle.

Don’t Avoid Other Types of Closeness

The media does us little favors when it comes to love and sex. In movies, a couple kisses for a moment, then the clothes come off and BAM, they’re having sexual intercourse. These cues can set us up for sexual disappointment because this is what we may come to expect in real life. When all the fireworks, bells and whistles don’t go off, the couple may think they’ve failed in some way.

Just because sexual intercourse isn’t something you’re able to do right now, don’t avoid intimacy. Hold each other in bed, kiss, hold hands and pleasure each other in other ways that don’t involve penile penetration. Now might even be the perfect time to try sexual toys to spice things up and draw the focus away from the current issue.

Men who immediately jump to the use of prescription pills may find that though they are physically able to perform, the psychological and emotional commitment just isn’t there. This is why it’s important to stay connected and keep communication open.

Sit Down and Discuss as a Couple

Men are natural problem-solvers. They see an issue, whether is it theirs or their partners and they immediately want to fix it. Can’t perform? Get a pill! It’s that simple, right? After all, media is always bombarding men with commercials of couples smiling and lounging in bathtubs after taking a performance-enhancing pill.

Again, these types of pills only make the equipment work; they don’t address the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction.

Instead of playing “Mr. Fix-It”, try sitting down with your partner and talking about your sexual relationship. Are you satisfied with what you’re both doing in bed? How does the foreplay and intercourse make you feel? Talk openly about your sexual fantasies and desires. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover things you never knew about your partner!

Masturbation and Pornography – It May Help or Hurt

Masturbation and pornography is considered a taboo for some. It might bring up feelings of guilt or inadequacy. But there may be a time and place for that type of sexual release. It might even be productive for your sexual relations with your partner. When you do masturbate, pay careful attention to your fantasies. Do they vary greatly from your real-life sexual encounters? This may help you to understand what might be keeping you from feeling aroused. Pay attention to the sexual videos you watch and the magazines you read.

If the type of films or books you enjoy are very explicit and not what you usually enjoy in real life, this might be the source of your erectile dysfunction. Arousal may be difficult for you in ordinary sexual situations because you’re not getting the type of stimulation in real life as you’re used to getting from pornographic films and books.

Try this instead: Read or watch romantic movies about a couple in an intimate relationship. This may help you begin to re-associate romance, love and connectedness with enjoyable sex.

Also, reducing stimuli by only looking at magazines or books might also help prevent sexual desensitization between you and your partner because you’ll have more realistic expectations of sex.

Again, don’t expect sex to be like what it is in the movies. That doesn’t mean don’t fantasize. That’s perfectly normal and may even enhance the sexual experience. Just understand that at home your sexual partner may just be tired from a long day at work. Be understanding but don’t avoid sexual intimacy. Make time for each other.

Set a time once a week at least to have a date night. Whether it’s a time to go out to dinner, see a movie or just spend a couple of hours at home alone. This can set the mood for romance without any unnecessary pressure. Also, don’t feel guilty about mommy and daddy needing some “alone time”. It’s necessary to maintain a healthy sexual relationship.

More about Erectile Dysfunction Psychology

There are other underlying causes may play a role in erectile dysfunction psychology.

Stress at work, for example, can cause problems in the bedroom. Worrying about money and feeling unable to be able to provide for your family may result in feelings of inadequacy, which might carry over to your love life.

Depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder may also be underlying factors in the development of erectile dysfunction. If you are troubled by unresolved problems in your past, it can affect your sexual performance.

Dealing with erectile dysfunction psychology isn’t always easy. After all, we’re a quick-fix society who just wants to pop a pill and get on with things. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. Most of the time, impotence is the result of an underlying anxiety. Talking to your partner about your anxiety, desires and needs can go a long way in reconnecting you with your partner and lessening feelings of inadequacy.

The first step in having a positive sexual experience is open communication. Sometimes partners have difficulty communicating openly about sex, especially if it’s been a long time since they’ve been intimate with each other. If you’re having a hard time reconnecting with your partner, you may consider couples therapy.

You’re not alone in dealing with erectile dysfunction and there’s help available that goes beyond taking a drug. Be patient with yourself. Remember: Relaxation and arousal. That and an open and understanding partnership can help you get back the spark you’ve been missing.

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