Psychological factors in Erectile Dysfunction
The human mind is incredibly powerful. This is a proven fact and it is at the heart of most, if not all, the amazing feats that people have accomplished. But that same mind can create what’s sometimes referred to as psychological ED. The good news is that it’s treatable. The bad or sad news is that far too many men would rather suffer with ED, often in silence, than get the help they need so that they can have a great sex life. It can be embarrassing to share a secret that you may tell yourself makes you less of a man. But the only thing the take charge man would have a right to be embarrassed about is not taking the necessary steps to get this part of his life handled.
In 2007, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study reported that 18 million men in the United States alone faced difficulties having or maintaining an erection. And as many as 20% of all cases of ED each year are psychologically-based.
Psychological Impotence Defined
While physical problems are the most likely source of ED, they are not the only possible cause. The more obvious potential physical causes of ED are heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, and medications that are known to cause impotence. For those who are otherwise healthy but finding it difficult to have or main erections, mental erectile dysfunction needs to be considered.
While attempting to diagnose one’s own medical conditions is never a great idea, the Internet provides a wealth of information that can be used to learn about the possible root causes of ED and doing so prior to an appointment with a physician can give you and your doctor a head start. If you’re able to have an erection while alone or you have consistent morning erections, then it’s unlikely the problem is of a physical nature meaning that mental ED could be more likely.
Most Common Causes of Psychological ED
Rather than being associated with a single issue, psychological impotence refers to a host of more specific potential causes of ED. While any type of sexually traumatic experience can leave emotional and psychological scars, the psychological causes we are discussing here are more likely tied to generalized life experiences or the perception of those experiences.
Can stress cause erectile dysfunction? The high-performance man is brimming with confidence and believes in his ability to do anything. But just because one can do something it does not mean that would be the best use of their time and expertise. Saying yes to such things when there is already too much to do can put a man into stress overload which is not at all conducive to dependable erections. Clearly, stress and erectile dysfunction are related. We all have the same 24 hours available to us each day. Choosing to delegate and being able to say no without guilt are two of the ways that men can reduce their stress levels and decrease their potential for stress erectile dysfunction.
Can depression cause erectile dysfunction? Depression robs us of our joy and energy for life. If one is struggling with depression, they may have very little, if any, interest in sex. In this scenario, a man may not become aroused enough to produce an erection.
The hormones associated with stress shift your sympathetic nervous system into fight or flight mode. When you’re stressed, sex might be the furthest thing from your mind, thereby making an erection difficult which could be a form of psychological ED.
Can anxiety cause erectile dysfunction? People who experience generalized anxiety may be anxious about everything or only a few things. Regardless of the specific source of the anxiety, generalized anxiety can certainly take its toll on a man and on his ability to perform sexually which is anxiety erectile dysfunction.
Performance Anxiety Induced Erectile Dysfunction
Clearly, performance anxiety , is tied to stress. But being worried about delivering a respectable performance can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether it’s based on negative past experiences or just trying to impress a new partner, the fear of failure can make men too self-conscious to perform. And of course, psychological ED can also create relationship problems.
If you are having major challenges in your relationship you may desire sex, but your body may not be willing to cooperate. Also, if your partner desires children and you do not, a fear of getting your partner pregnant could be the cause of your psychological ED.
Pornography addiction is included here not to present a judgment on the use of pornography, but rather to point out its ability to rewire our neural pathways to produce a form of psychological ED. This rewiring can dramatically change what a man is turned on by and how he responds to visual stimuli, meaning that the never-ending variety presented by Internet porn could make his own partner seem less desirable by comparison to the point where he could lose all interest in having sex with her.
How to Know If ED Is Physical or Psychological
For men experiencing psychological ED, the real issue is the mind. But how can you know if your ED is psychological? Below is a list of medical tests that can be used to help determine the source of your ED.
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Blood glucose (fasting)
- Serum creatinine
- Lipid profile
Sometimes, talking about your problem is the best way to address it. Therapists can help men understand relationship problems, anxiety, and other psychological factors behind ED. They can also teach men how to fix psychological ED.
One form of psychological therapy for ED involves visualization or guided imagery. The patient may sit with their eyes closed, being guided by a therapist or listening to an audio recording, while engaging in positive visualization exercises.
While there are some good options for dealing with psychological ED, what won’t work is pretending the issue does not exist. It may be quite helpful to talk with your partner about what is happening. And while it may feel like your problem as the man in the relationship you can be sure that you are both affected by psychological ED. Communication will help your partner understand this issue and perhaps alleviate some of the stress that might be working against an erection. Also, do not hesitate to communicate with your doctor.