Erectile Dysfunction from a Psychological Perspective

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Second of a Thee Part Series on ED.

This week Brett and I continue our discussion of ED and men. We are focusing not on the mechanical or physical causes and problems that lead to loss of erections in men, we are focusing instead on the emotional and psychological contributors.

Brett talks about his thirty years as a therapist, seeing hundreds of men and women work on their relationship problems. Often these problems are caused by or exacerbated by what is happening in their sex lives. When we are young and fall in lust and then work on falling in love, arousal is not often a problem. When you first meet someone and are attracted to them, wanting them sexually is a natural and frequent response. Married couples, or long term couples, become habituated to one another, they get saturated by the amount of contact they have, and life begins to intrude. Children come along, job stress and money stress is involved, and habits begin to assert themselves. Often sex becomes a scheduled chore rather than a spontaneous and joyous encounter with someone you find to be fun and exciting.

Even if you are not “bored” or habituated with your partner, life intrudes and problems often occur. If men feel performance anxiety because their wife is perceived by them to be demanding or critical of their performance both sexually and in life, then these feelings will reduce their sexual responsiveness. One way this manifests is with ED.

Sometimes depression and stress are causes of ED. This is a Catch 22. If you take many of the anti depressant medicines that are out there, they inhibit sexual functioning. So you may be less depressed because you take the meds, but you won’t want to have sex.

One last topic that we touch on this week as we talk about intimacy, sex, and ED is the important topic of talking. Communication, particularly about sexual matters is a critical relationship skill. Many people are resistant to talking about their fantasies, about their desires and likes and dislikes because of religious, cultural, or other reasons. Brett says it is very important to challenge this resistance and try to be able to talk with each other about what you like and want. It can help avoid and it can help overcome problems with ED.

Please come back next week and listen to the third in our series, as we talk about treatments and interventions for fighting the problems of ED.

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