Psychological ED – All in the Head?
Psychological factors are responsible for about 10-20% of all cases of erectile dysfunction.
Confusingly enough though, in many cases psychological factors contributing to erectile dysfunction may themselves the result of physiological issues - for example heavy stress leading to low testosterone, low sex drive and physical exhaustion.
In total physical ED causes are estimated to account for up to 90% of all erectile dysfunction.
Psychologically-caused erectile dysfunction tends to be more common in younger men.
In some cases, childhood trauma or abuse may be responsible for psychological erectile dysfunction. This is more rare though.
Common Causes of Psychological ED
Many of the underlying causes of psychological erectile dysfunction relate to the pace and demands of modern life which can result in:
- General Anxiety: An increasingly common psychological issue in the modern age.
- Performance Anxiety: This can stem from either a lack of sexual experience (and fears you won’t fulfil your partner’s expectations) or bad sexual experiences (divorce after a poor sex life leading to lack of confidence.)
Performance anxiety can become a self-fulfilling cycle, where one bad experience of erectile dysfunction triggers fears about future sexual encounters and leads to persistent erectile dysfunction. Performance anxiety is possibly the most common form of psychological erectile dysfunction.
- Depression: Depression affects a person psychologically and physically, via changes in neurotransmitters in the brain which communicate with nerves and blood vessels in the genitals. Depression is one of the most common psychological causes of erectile dysfunction. It can be a stumbling-block even for men typically confident in the bedroom, and many anti-depressant medications may cause erectile dysfunction.
- Guilt: Guilt is most commonly experienced over not adequately pleasing a sexual partner, or else infidelity.
- Stress: Most common forms of stress here are job, finances or relationship-related.
- Sexual Inexperience: Pervasive internet porn has led many young men to have unrealistic ideas about sexual performance and female response that have little to do with reality. These can lead some young men to feel disappointed or inadequate when it comes to normal sexual experience.
- Low self-esteem: A lack of personal confidence can be directly related to sexual performance. There is plenty of evidence that the “alpha male” who is handsome, rich and powerful gets the gals, and a feeling of inadequacy about physical appearance, job success, social status, and financial position can all affect feelings of desirability.
- Sexual Indifference: Loss of libido can sometimes be related to aging, the length of a relationship, or general relationship quality.
Psychological ED – What You Can Do About It
Erectile dysfunction can be either global, occurring persistently in all contexts, or situational, occurring just some of the time. Some experts believe that all men will be affected by some form of erectile dysfunction, whether psychological or physical or both, at some stage in their life.
If psychologically-caused erectile dysfunction becomes persistent, or is having any sort of negative impact on your relationship, it’s always good advice to do something about it sooner rather than later. Australian research into male sexual function recommends men get on to erectile dysfunction issues as soon as the signs first manifest. Sexually active Aussie men live longer – with the reverse unfortunately also true.
The good news is, there are several simple, natural steps you can take to reduce the effects of psychological erectile dysfunction, including:
- Maintaining a better work / life balance
- Getting regular rest and recreation
- Improving exercise habits
- Improving diet habits
- Making sure you dedicate quality time to your relationship with your partner
Counselling for Psychological Erectile Dysfunction
For many men, directly resolving anxiety and stress inducing aspects of daily life will be enough to over time mitigate the effects of psychologically-caused erectile dysfunction.
In some cases though, if the psychological factors or erectile dysfunction is more severe you may want to seek professional assistance, such as a sexual health / relationship counsellor or therapist.
It’s no big secret that Aussie men are particularly reluctant to talk about their bedroom woes, even compared with their American and Kiwi counterparts. Counselling for erectile dysfunction need not be as painful as is often imagined however!
There are several good local Australian counsellors and psychologists whose advice and services can prove invaluable in dealing with psychological erectile dysfunction factors. Don’t delay! Step up to the plate and seek treatment today – you’ll certainly be glad you did later, as will your partner!