Erectile dysfunction, ED, impotence, trouble keeping it up… Whatever you call it, the inability to maintain an erection firm enough for intercourse is more common than you think.
For many men, their penis works just fine, great, even… until they are with a partner. Then it’s all downhill from there.
For other men, erections might start out fine, but as soon as their mind starts to wander into their erections, that is when the trouble happens. Suddenly, they notice that their erection isn’t quite as hard as it was a moment ago. Then they start to worry “oh no… this is it! I’m losing my erection!”. That’s when heart rate kicks up, the worry thoughts start coming even faster “Is my partner going to think that I’m not attracted to them?” “I’m not going to be able to get my erection back now!” “Is this going to happen every time??”. And as soon as this cycle is in full effect, it’s impossible to stay erect.
ED can lead to loads of worry. It make it so that we avoid sex, even when we don’t want to. Maybe we avoid dating, even (because you don’t have to worry about being judged over lost erections when you don’t have a partner!). ED can make it impossible to have intercourse, and can turn even the most wonderful sex into a horrible experience.
If you struggle with ED, then you can understand how frustrating it can be when your body doesn’t do what you want it to do. Impotence can make you feel completely alone, like there is no one around to talk to about it.
With porn stars rocking rock-solid erections for the entire length of a movie, it can make you feel like there’s something terribly wrong with you when your penis doesn’t work like that. Oftentimes, we can feel like we’re “less of a man”.
Once ED becomes a problem, many men start to worry about it even outside of the bedroom. Thoughts about their erections can seem to fill every waking moment. Some men start to feel like they’re not mentally strong enough to “just get over it already”.
The thought of sex can become extremely stressful. Some men will try to push through it, only to get extremely disappointed, angry, or upset if it doesn’t go well. Other men will start to avoid sex all together. And other’s still will start to engage in even more masturbation in order to keep checking to make sure “Okay! I’m not broken!”. Unfortunately, all of these strategies can actually make the problem worse.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION AND RELATIONSHIPS
Partners can play a big role in ED, as well. Some partners mean well, but can actually make things worse. For example, some partners will try extra hard to help you get an erection, focusing all their energy on your penis. But this can make the problem so much worse; now the penis is really under pressure… no erection could survive under those conditions! This can leave you feeling even more frustrated, embarrassed, or alone.
Other times, partners can be quite cruel (whether they mean to or not). Partner’s might crack jokes or show frustration or anger. This can make men feel even worse.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
What’s important to remember is that most men experience ED at some point in their life! It’s a completely normal part of having a penis.
Erectile dysfunction now and then is not a problem. It is natural. The problems only arise when we “put the penis on a pedestal”, so to speak. Oftentimes, and for whatever reason, people tend to put a ton of focus on the performance of erections during sex. This creates a whole lot of pressure on a person to get and keep a hard erection for the entire time a couple is being intimate. This just isn’t realistic!! Erections wax and wane… they don’t work the way they do in porn!
If you are experiencing ED or impotence, know that you are absolutely not alone. Although… it probably feels like you are.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S HOPE.
You do not need to live with ED. Medications, therapy, or a combination of both can offer the solution. At the Tri Health Clinic, we provide effective and confidential therapy to anyone in Ontario dealing with erectile dysfunction. Using a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques, Mindfulness, and Sex Therapy, we can work with you to have the stress-free, fun sex life you always dreamed of. Learn more about the sort of work we do here.
Whether it is to connect better with your partner, the joy of an orgasm, or because it’s just fun, therapy can help you achieve your goals of having a good sex life. Contact us today to get started on the sex life of your dreams.
DR. JENN BOSSIO, C. Psych is a psychologist and sex therapist servicing anywhere in Ontario (virtually). She offers in-person appointments to Kingston and the surrounding areas including Bellville, Napanee, Brockville. She works with individuals and couples to help make their sex lives better over all. She uses mindfulness in her work to treat sexual health problems, and as a tool to improve overall mental wellness. Read more about her here.