Erectile Dysfunction

Arousal can be. . . complicated. Different factors like stress, genetics, and overall health can influence how your body responds to sexual stimulation. Sometimes, the underlying cause is as simple as not feeling it or having an off day. Other times, though, the underlying problem with maintaining arousal might be something more that requires a little more attention. 

Erectile dysfunction is very common, affecting roughly 30 million men in the United States. It’s more prevalent among older people or those with chronic health concerns, but younger people can also experience erectile dysfunction. It’s something that can—and does—affect anyone. 

It’s no new phenomenon plaguing only the modern man. Hundreds of people for hundreds of years have experienced erectile dysfunction. It was historically referred to as impotence, derived from the Latin word impotencia, meaning lack of power. And yet, some of the most powerful figures in history like Henry VIII and Tsar Peter II have experienced erectile dysfunction. It’s totally normal, and has nothing to do with your personal power or worthiness despite historical stigma. 

The Mayo Clinic defines erectile dysfunction as “the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.” The most common causes for erectile dysfunction are metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, or a number of other chronic health conditions. The Urology Care Foundation warns that erectile dysfunction might be an indicator of a serious cardiovascular disease. Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of a bigger health issue rather than the health issue itself, and should be taken seriously. 

However, erectile dysfunction is not always a cue to prepare for the worst. Erectile dysfunction can be initiated by psychological stressors. Your brain is one of your most valuable tools for achieving arousal. But if your brain is already preoccupied and dealing with mental health concerns like depression or anxiety, it can be difficult to experience and express physical desire. It’s possible that depression or anxiety might be causing erectile dysfunction, which erectile dysfunction then contributes to by causing even more stress. And erectile dysfunction can be frustrating, but it is treatable once the root cause is identified. 

If you’ve begun to experience chronic erectile dysfunction, it might be time to consult your primary health care provider or seek advice from a urologist or nephrologist, doctors which specialize in conditions affecting the kidneys or urinary tracts. The Urology Care Foundation extols that finding the cause of your erectile dysfunction is a vital first step in treating it or improving your overall health. 

To diagnose your erectile dysfunction, the physician will ask you questions as well as perform physical tests. This will likely include an examination of your genitals as well as a prostate exam. The exam could possibly involve bloodwork, if only to rule in-or-out any serious diseases. 

Your doctor will provide a healthcare plan for you. Combating erectile dysfunction could include changing your diet and exercise routine, stopping smoking, testosterone therapy, or seeing a therapist. If you’re not experiencing erectile dysfunction and want to prevent it, the same treatments mentioned above still apply. Taking care of your mental and physical health will help take care of the problem.

However erectile dysfunction is affecting you and however you choose to seek treatment, it’s important to be open with your partner about whatever you’re experiencing. If you are in a relationship, erectile dysfunction affects not only you, but can affect intimacy with your partner. It can drive a wedge in your relationship if it’s not talked about. Open communication can be key in not only working around erectile dysfunction, but in mitigating its effects. 

Sidebar: Erectile dysfunction does not make anyone less worthy or less loveable. If your partner is making you feel like you are the problem, and not the erectile dysfunction, they are not being properly supportive. If someone’s treatment of you is bothering you, address it. Cutting the negativity out of your life can help resolve your erectile dysfunction, so cut that negativity out. 

When talking to your partner about erectile dysfunction, it's best to have this discussion at a neutral time and not during or directly after intimacy. Going over road bumps and how to smooth them out are discussions to have before heading to the bedroom. 

Your doctor can prescribe medication to help maintain an erection. These are often the first line of attack. Trying something like a penis pump could also be a great option. A penis pump goes over the penis and works by pulling blood into the penis. This one from NS Novelties features a robust yet quiet motor to comfortably stimulate your anatomy. 

Penis pumps work by stimulating extra blood flow into the penis, and penis rings work by keeping that blood in the penis shaft. Healthline reports that “most users find the ring helps an erection last long enough for intercourse. As ED rings prevent blood from flowing back while the penis is erect, they work best when a man can achieve a partial or full erection but has difficulty maintaining it.” 

Some penis rings also include attachments for vibrators to give your partner an extra boost of stimulation. The Pulse Vibrating Erection Ring is made with a comfortable yet firm material that will stay in place comfortably the whole time you have it on. If you’re looking for a more robust vibrating option that can withstand being used in water, try the Adam and Eve Rechargeable Couples Penis Ring

However you deal with your erectile dysfunction, always remember that what you are experiencing is perfectly normal and everything you feel is totally valid. Erectile dysfunction is nothing to be embarrassed about. There are plenty of options available to treat your erectile dysfunction, and you’re not alone in your experience. Odds are, you know someone who either is going through the same thing, has gone through it before, or will experience erectile dysfunction at some point. It’s common, and it's time we started talking about it like a regular medical issue that anyone might experience. 

You are not alone and you are not a problem.