The right and wrong way to react to erectile dysfunction

By Mosh

25 January 2021

minute read
Man with head in hands

Erectile dysfunction is difficult to accept, but the way you react to it can make all the difference. Learn the right and wrong ways to respond for a positive outcome.

As men, erections are an integral part of our identity. If we fail to get it up, it can significantly affect both ourselves and our partner, potentially triggering a loss of confidence, low self-esteem, anger, anxiety and shame.

The first thing you should know is that you’re not alone. Erectile dysfunction is, in fact, the most common sex problem that men report to their doctor, affecting up to 150 million men worldwide. It might feel like you’re alone in it, though, because men rarely talk about it.

So, we’re here to have the chat with you and explain the dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with erectile dysfunction.

Don’t: Avoid the issue

Not being able to get it up (or keep it up) can be highly embarrassing and make you feel very self-conscious, especially if it’s happening for the first time. A common response is to shut down, avoid sex and enter the worry zone. As instinctive as this may be – especially for us guys – avoiding the issue will only serve to make it worse in the long run. Not only will it affect your mental health but it can drive a serious wedge between you and your partner.

Do: Try to understand the issue

Rather than avoid the elephant in the room, it’s better to face facts and try to understand the cause of your erectile difficulties. This approach will give you the best chance of finding a suitable treatment.

Knowing what’s considered ‘normal’ by medical standards is a great place to start. If your failure to get an erection is a one-off occurrence or it only happens sometimes, then it’s unlikely anything to be concerned about. In fact, it’s quite normal for guys to have difficulty with erections up to 20 percent of the time.

For younger men, psychological rather than physical issues are often the cause of erectile difficulties. Performance anxiety is quite common in this group, where one failed erection causes a stress response in future intimate situations, which then causes you to lose your erection every time. It’s a vicious cycle that can benefit from psychological treatment with a Mosh psychologist.

Other common causes of erectile dysfunction include, stress, tiredness, generalised anxiety, relationship issues, financial concerns, too much alcohol and recreational drug use. These are issues that can often be addressed with lifestyle changes and stress reduction techniques such as meditation.

When it comes to older men, physical causes are the most common reason for erectile dysfunction. This may include vascular disease, heart disease, nerve damage, obesity or side effects from certain prescription medications.

If you’re not sure whether your erectile issues are physical or psychological, it helps to keep track of when you lose your erections. A gradual loss of function over time is more likely a physical issue. But if you’re still getting erections spontaneously overnight or in the morning, the problem may be psychological.

A Mosh doctor can help you understand the cause of your erectile dysfunction and how you can best treat it from the comfort of your home.

Don’t: Blame your partner

An upsetting experience such as losing your erection can make you lash out and blame your partner. Not only will this negatively affect your relationship, it may bring your partner’s self-esteem and confidence down with yours.

The reality is, no-one is to blame when it comes to erectile dysfunction. It’s more likely circumstantial or a physical problem that’s at play.

Do: Talk about it with your partner

Erectile difficulties are not only your concern, they’re your partner’s concern too, because they affect your intimate relationship.

While it’s difficult to broach the subject, being brave enough to communicate your issues with your partner may not only resolve some of your stress, but it may help you identify any underlying causes.

Perhaps there are parts of your life and relationship that you can make changes to together, such as eating better, exercising more or reducing stress levels. Or, you may just need to find more time for each other where you’re not focused on work, pets or kids.

If you’re finding it difficult to start the conversation, begin by acknowledging that the subject is a little embarrassing. Or, if you’d rather work up to it, start by discussing your sex life generally and work up to more specific issues.

Don’t: Stop having sex with your partner

When you suffer from erectile difficulties, shutting your partner out – and even worse, avoiding sex altogether – can be highly distressing for your partner. It can trigger thoughts that they’ve done something wrong, that you’re no longer attracted to them, or that you’re having an affair. If none of these are true, it pays to reassure your partner by opening up about your issues and finding other ways to connect with them.

Do: Change the way you think about sex

There are many other ways you can be intimate with your partner without having an erection. Rather than focusing on penetration, think about other ways to create connection, such as massages, touching each other, manual masturbation (using fingers, hands, or tongue), taking a bath together or even using sex gadgets.

Don’t: Turn to drugs, alcohol or porn

Medicating with drugs and/or alcohol to distract you from your erectile difficulties may make you feel better momentarily, but in the long run, it will only make matters worse and will likely drive distance between you and your partner. In fact, alcohol and recreational drugs can be the cause of erectile dysfunction to begin with.

And if you think porn will give you the extra stimulation you need to get or maintain an erection, you may want to think again. Overconsumption of porn has been associated with an increased risk of erectile difficulties, especially in young men. It can lead to unrealistic expectations of sex and an increased tolerance for sex, meaning you need more and more porn to get the same response.

Do: Make positive lifestyle changes

Leading an unhealthy lifestyle has been strongly associated with erectile dysfunction, as it puts you at risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease – both of which are directly linked to erectile difficulties.

If your lifestyle habits leave a lot to be desired, making improvements such as reducing your alcohol intake, quitting smoking (if you smoke), exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and dealing with stress and relationship issues, may help improve your erectile problems.

To find out more about erectile dysfunction symptoms, causes, treatment and medication, read Erectile Dysfunction: The Definitive Guide.

Tags: ed sex