When it comes to the bedroom, men can experience a variety of setbacks. One of the most common issues is erectile dysfunction (ED), which can trigger significant performance anxiety. But what is it about ED that leads to anxiety and frustration? And how does it impact psychological and relationship well-being? This article is going to dive deeper into these elements. Hang in there, Brother.
First, it's important to acknowledge that ED is a medical condition that affects many men, of all ages and backgrounds. Read about how it's affecting younger men now more than before It's estimated that over 30 million men in the United States alone experience some form of ED. So if you're feeling frustrated or anxious about your own sexual performance, know that you're definitely not alone. There are a number of reasons why ED can lead to these negative feelings.
1. Reduced Intimacy
Whether we admit it or not, us men pride in our ability to perform sexually. When we're unable to maintain an erection or satisfy our partner, it can be a big blow to the ego. This leads to to feelings of inadequacy or inferiority, which can in turn lead to reduced intimacy. When sex becomes difficult, we may withdraw from our partner. This can further lead to disconnection between partners, making it harder to connect on an emotional level. Or some partners may mistakenly believe that they are no longer attractive or desirable in bed. It's a fast race to the bottom from there. The best thing to do is avoid this negative cycle by taking care of your heath with proper nutrition, supplements, and exercise. But if it's too late for that, here are some ways to remedy this.
Solution: Open communication. Yes, we know you're probably rolling your eyes at this one but it'll actually help you perform better in bed if you tack your partner's expectations head on (pun intended). It's important to explain that this is a shared struggle, that you're not trying to "do this to" your partner and that you are also equally affected by the limited intimacy. Use this as an opportunity to set aside time for non-sexual forms of intimacy like cuddling or massage, and being open and honest about concerns related to sexual performance. Building emotional safety in your relationship can make a huge impact on lowering anxiety levels and speed up your journey back to your mojo.
2. Loss of Confidence and Social Expectations
There's a lot of pressure on men from society to be "strong" and "macho," with a high sex drive and the ability to satisfy any partner. When men feel like they're not living up to these expectations, they may feel like they're failing as a man. These psychological impacts can be significant and have far-reaching effects. Men with ED may experience anxiety, have trouble sleeping, or even depression. What's more is that studies now link several anti-depressant medications with prolonged erectile dysfunction (1). So how do you prevent yourself from falling into this bear trap?
Solution: Toss out your socially conditioned beliefs, and make way for self-reflection and acceptance. Challenge your own attitudes and beliefs about masculinity, and make a definition of what masculinity means to you. Recognize that these societal expectations of what it means to be a "man" are outdated and narrow. Understand that masculinity is diverse, and there's no single way to define it. Embrace the idea that being true to yourself, regardless of societal expectations, is what matters most, Brother.
3. Low Self-Esteem
A lot of men like to tie our sense of self-worth and identity into our performance. And it's just in the bedroom, oftentimes we do this in other areas too. So when ED rears its ugly head, it's difficult for us to not have the condition negatively impact our relationship with ourselves. Although there could be a biological factor to this, with us being genetically hardwired to provide, it is evident that evolutionary survival traits are now coming into conflict with modern day life. When we begin to falsely associate low sexual performance with low self-worth, it can lead us down the dark path of low self-esteem. Studies have shown that 25% of patients in urban cities surveyed with ED have also experienced ideation of suicide (2). That means out of the 30 million men in America currently struggling with ED, over 7 million of them may have experienced suicidal thoughts at some point. You are definitely not alone in the struggle. Fortunately, there are ways to combat these thoughts and pivot out of tough places.
Solution: Release negative self-talk. Many of us hold onto an inner critic that continually puts us down, leading to feelings that we're not good enough or incompetent. It's important to realize that this critic is not holding onto us, rather we are holding onto it. So let it go. It's just mental chatter. Practice relaxation or other mind-quieting relaxation techniques like deep breathing (breathwork), meditation, or yoga. Raising self esteem and lowering levels of stress can improve your sexual performance. For an entertaining 10 minute cortisol-lowering exercise check out our guide.
While these this article may not resonate with everyone, it's a good starting point for helping men uncover reasons why ED can negatively impact relationships and psychological wellbeing. With the right approach and mindset, we can find ways to regain confidence and sense of connection. And just remember, you are not alone in this fight. The team at Stamen is here to support your journey back to health, Brother. To learn more if our supplements can help, read this article next.
1. Higgins A, Nash M, Lynch AM. Antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction: impact, effects, and treatment. Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2010. [PubMed]
2. Kemball RS, Gasgarth R, Johnson B, Patil M, Houry D. Unrecognized suicidal ideation in ED patients. Am J Emerg Med. 2008 Jul; [PubMed]