The Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction

Personality characteristics and relationship issues as a cause of erectile dysfunction

What kind of man experiences erectile dysfunction and impotence?

As you'd probably expect, most men have some experiences of impotence or erectile dysfunction in their life.

We assume that the erect penis is a fundamental part of us.....until it goes wrong, that is. But the truth is that having an erection is one of the least reliable aspects of masculinity and all kinds of things can affect it: a woman who comes out with the wrong comments when we are feeling vulnerable, assuming that we can have sex even when we don't want to, our belief that the man is the leader and initiator during sex, that the woman is passive during sex, and so forth.

But, of course, some men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction problems than other men.

Those who worry a lot, those who find that little things cause them a great deal of agonizing, those who mull over the state of their relationships, and those whose minds are restless cauldrons of worry and anxiety are most likely to experience erectile dysfunction - followed by those who have a problem with anger. Relaxed and sexually confident men are least likely to have erectile dysfunction.

If you're worried about erectile dysfunction, you may already know that anxiety about losing your erection and anxiety about erectile dysfunction can quickly make the problem much worse.

In working all this out, start by asking yourself what kinds of standards you aspire to during sex. Do you have a need to be in control while your partner remains more passive? Do you feel you "give" her an orgasm, do you always make sure she gets her orgasm before you do?

 If so, you need to understand that this kind of perfectionism is going to lead to failure: no one can be perfect, and therefore you are doomed to fail.

One experience when your penis lets you down can seem like a massive failure: you've let your woman down, you've let yourself down, your penis has let you down, and it might all happen again? Who can trust who anymore? How can you (and your penis) ever be trusted again?

Further more, if you lack sexual experience, you may not yet realize that one episode of impotence isn't the end of your sex life. If this fact is unclear to you, and you approach sex with your anxiety uppermost in your thoughts, it's quite possible that you will lose your erection, since such expectations are often only too quickly fulfilled.

But this can happen to every man on the face of the earth, whatever his personality type, his level of anxiety or his sexual experience. If you find that your erection is frequently going down at the worst moments, and you don't understand why, it doesn't really what you age or circumstances - you can rapidly come to believe you will never be sexually confident again.

And once you don't get erect, you'll feel less of a man, for sure....and you might try some strategies to cope with erectile dysfunction and get things back to normal. In this section, we can just have a quick look at -

Women's role in the onset of erectile dysfunction

You might think this is impossible - how can the object of your desire possibly contribute to your erectile dysfunction?  The answer is - in many ways! First of all, women are not usually able to relate very well to male sexual issues and problems.

They may not listen, they may instead try and sooth and solve problems - and they cannot understand what a change in male sexuality as profound as loss of erection means to a man. (Imagine trying to understand the changes in a woman's perspective throughout her menstrual cycle.) This issue is made worse because most women interpret any fluctuations in a man's sexuality as somehow related to her and her desirability.

So when a man loses his erection, she may well think this is a reflection on her, that she has done something wrong, or that he is being unfaithful....and so on. If an emotional or sexual relationship is quite new, a woman may well interpret a man's erectile dysfunction as a sign that he no longer finds her attractive, and she may begin to ask questions to try and establish her responsibility in the matter.

But such loaded questions usually alienate a man even more and tend to make him feel under even more pressure, thereby producing a slew of emotions which are more likely than ever to cause him to lose his lose his erection. The partner's role in erectile dysfunction is discussed here.

A lot of couples' sexual relationship is biased towards the woman, in subtle but important ways. One of these is the expectation that a man will always satisfy his partner first, so that she need never be without an orgasm, nor need she ever feel unfulfilled.

Well, OK, but how about her taking a turn to serve him, to give him sexual pleasure without expecting sexual fulfilment in return? If she can't come through intercourse, or he can't last long enough, then it's useful for a couple to agree that from time to time he can have a quickie, where he just fucks her for his own pleasure, with no expectations on her part other than giving him pleasure.

This kind of sexual interaction takes all the pressure off him, it allows him to forget about pleasing her, to stop worrying about whether he will keep his erection for long enough to give her pleasure, and lets him just engage completely with his sexual desire and the thrill of his orgasm and ejaculation.

If a woman does not wish to do this, or doesn't understand how necessary this kind of "no-strings" fuck is for a man, then a couple may quickly revert to a pattern of resentment and blame, whereby she thinks his erectile failure is her fault, or that he doesn't desire her enough, where she puts the blame on him, and where his resentment and anger is so high that he cannot get erect because he feels no intimacy with his partner. 

This is especially true for older men who may not even have erectile dysfunction, but whose lack of an erection may simply be a reflection of the need for hand or mouth stimulation from their partner.

Open and honest discussion is essential to cure erectile dysfunction

Men may find frank communication about emotions and feelings quite challenging while women seem to revel in this level of communication. Yet the irony is that such an exchange of views is essential for a relationship to flourish.

So, as a man, to make this easier for yourself, plan to have any such discussion when you are free of other business, and you know what you want to say. Stick to your guns, don't be sidetracked, and trust your partner to hear your fears and doubts about your erectile dysfunction without judging you.

 Of course, emotional communication on such a sensitive subject is not necessarily easy for a man, and it needs to be conducted in a calm way so that you are not overwhelmed with your feelings. Tell her about the effect of your erectile dysfunction on your feelings, what you would like to do about it, and how you wish her to help you cure your impotence. This might not be the best subject for discussion after you've had an argument, or when you've failed to get an erection during sex.

If you have erectile dysfunction, a woman may often seek to reassure you by saying things like "It's OK, really." But this kind of remark is quite discounting of how you feel, for it obviously does matter to you that you cannot get erect, and no matter how well intentioned, such observations may just add fuel to the fire of your anger and resentment.

You obviously should tell her this, so she can understand that erectile dysfunction isn't OK at all. Clearly you need to do this without attacking her, while you also acknowledge her feelings and let her express what she thinks and feels about the fact that you have erectile dysfunction. Keep in mind that what a woman says when she is upset may reflect more of her feelings than her thoughts, and don't over-react to her emotions.

Direct communication always helps to discuss the subject of erectile dysfunction

Talk about erectile dysfunction directly, clearly and promptly. You can stop an argument growing and you can pinch of the bud of resentment in its tracks by talking early. After all, there is no shame in what you feel, it's just how it is, and it doesn't have to be cured by your partner - she can just hear you out if she chooses to do so.

Equally, when she has something to say, listen to her words without interruption, without getting emotional, and without criticizing her. Above all, just don't try and delude yourselves that you can just ignore your erection problems. That is simply untrue if you are to have an intimate and honest relationship.

What if she isn't interested in curing your erectile dysfunction?

And she may not be, because she may have profound issues around sex - perhaps even being secretly quite glad that you cannot make any sexual demands of her, since you don't have an erection. It's important not to underestimate how couples may collude to keep erectile dysfunction off the agenda so that the status quo, and the issues which are thereby hidden, do not become exposed to scrutiny and threaten the long-term future of the relationship.

You can try to understand when a woman is being unco-operative about helping you solve your erectile problems. She may have fears about opening up difficult  relationship issues that will take you down challenging roads - break-up, power shifts, fears about her own sexual issues, and so on.

She may be angry because you have never previously discussed the issues you are now dealing with, or she may simply not be willing to engage in deeper intimacy.

Or, perhaps, she simply dislikes sex. Forcing these issues into the open may or may not be easy to deal with - but just reassuring her that you love her, or at the least being honest with her, is undoubtedly the best policy in the long run - do it for the sake of your erection!

If she hits you with comments like "No other man I've had sex with has had this problem" (or such like), then try to listen to her anger and frustration rather than her meanness - though if she really means it, then you may want to start working on the relationship with a counsellor, perhaps with a view to breaking up.

And if you need to, simply ask her directly to help you with these erectile problems. If you have decided to deal with your erectile dysfunction, remember that an issue as sensitive as not having an erection can feel like a wound to your very soul, and it may be some time before you can address it effectively. But you can start right now on this website.


Other pages of background information on erectile dysfunction

Home ] Introduction to ED ] Beliefs which cause erection problems ] Background information on ED ] Background information on erectile dysfunction ED ] Physical causes of ED ] [ Personality and relationship issues as a cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) ] Endocrinological causes of ED ] Vascular disease and ED ] What's causing your erection problems? ] Emotional & psychological problems in ED ] More on causes of ED ] Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction ] How to control the risk of ED ] Lack of arousal and ED ]
[ Treating, curing and preventing erectile dysfunction ]

Other sections of this website about erectile dysfunction

Home ] Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction ] The Causes of Erectile Dysfunction ] Effects of Erectile Dysfunction On Men and Their Partners ] Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction ]

Revised guidelines for the treatment of ED (2)