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Imagine this: you’re about to get close and intimate with your sexual partner to-be, eager to please. The chemistry leading up to the moment has been smooth, and sparks are firing in all cylinders in the bedroom.
The fun part is about to commence, and you and your partner are jut about to turn up the heat.
But despite the sexual scene set before you, you start to doubt yourself. Your inner monologue works against you, and no matter how hard you try, your penis just won’t get erect.
Like dominos falling in line, the anxiety you feel ruins the entire mood for the night, for both you and your partner. And sex is put to a halt.
Sadly, this tragedy is all too familiar for many men, regardless of how frequently they partake in sexual relations.
That said, some may wonder after the failed event: Is what I experienced anxiety? Furthermore, is this bout of anxiety the cause of erectile dysfunction?
The truth is: anxiety can cause erectile dysfunction. Read on to learn more about the connection between anxiety disorders and erectile dysfunction.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or sustain a firm erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. It’s a highly common sexual condition, affecting hundreds of millions of men globally. While it can affect men of every age, this sexual dysfunction is notorious for afflicting men in their older years.
The underlying cause of ED is multifactorial, meaning it may vary from one individual to the next. For some individuals, it could be due to a physical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or obesity. In other cases, ED may be caused by prescription medications taken to treat these conditions.
While the majority of ED cases have physical causes, there are occasions where it is caused by psychological factors. According to one 2022 study involving 1,367 participants, around 13.8% of them are diagnosed with psychogenic erectile dysfunction.
In such cases, ED isn’t a result of physical ailments, but rather caused by emotional disturbances. This can include depression, stress, and—the topic of the current conversation—anxiety.
The Link Between Anxiety and Erectile Dysfunction
Getting an erection requires different body parts to work harmoniously together. If there’s a dysfunction in a certain part (for example, clogged blood vessels or insulin resistance), it can affect the entire hierarchy of erectile function.
The brain is the first part of the body that’s responsible for erection formation. It’s responsible for sending nerve signals to the penile area, releasing hormones, and expanding the surrounding blood vessels.
If your brain is flooded by feelings of anxiety, it will subsequently impact erectile function for the worse. For one, it could increase the production of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. The presence of cortisol interferes with the brain’s ability to initiate and sustain an erection, as it acts as an inhibitor of testosterone.
And in case you’re wondering “Can stress cause temporary erectile dysfunction?”, the answer is yes, for reasons stated above.
Aside from that, anxiety can also cause muscle tension in the body. When you’re unable to relax your muscles, your body won’t be able to achieve an erection.
Lastly, your feelings towards the situation or your sexual partner can also be contributing factors to your erectile absence. If your partner is a great source of stress and anxiety for you, then your feelings may impede an erection from forming.
If you find yourself aroused solely through mental stimulation—as opposed to physical contact with your partner—then it’s likely that you’re experiencing this phenomenon.
Similarly, if you’re anxious over prevailing physical or mental health conditions or a personal and professional stress source, these may also make it hard to get erections.
Diagnosing Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction
If you suspect that your erectile dysfunction is caused by anxiety, you should get evaluated by a proper medical professional for a formal diagnosis.
A urologist will first review your past medical history to get a clearer picture of your overall health status. Afterward, they’ll perform a series of tests to understand your current health.
The majority of these tests are blood tests aimed to determine the following:
- Blood glucose levels
- Red blood cells
- Lipid count
- Testosterone count
If there are abnormal readings, the doctor may prescribe other tests like a urine test and a nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test to further understand your condition.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with psychogenic ED, you will be prescribed treatment plans suited for your condition.
Treating Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction: 4 Ways
Unlike physical erectile dysfunction, treating psychogenic ED requires a fundamentally different approach.
Here are a few treatment plans that you can look into to improve ED symptoms and increase sexual desire.
- Cognitive behavioral sex therapy: CBT is a unique psychological therapy that helps individuals understand, recognize, and manage the root of their emotions. This type of sexual anxiety therapy helps you attempt to dissect and understand your anxiety and come to terms with it.
- Couples therapy: If there’s a rift in the relationship, couples therapy can help you and your partner get back on track. This treatment can help you get through chronic stress and sexual health problems together as a couple.
- Relaxation techniques: You can choose to practice mindfulness, yoga, or other relaxation techniques aimed to help you reduce feelings of stress.
Besides the above ways to treat erectile dysfunction caused by generalized anxiety disorder or sexual performance anxiety, physiological treatments for ED are also viable options for the sex-starved man.
Here are some recommended ED treatments and lifestyle changes to consider if you’re struggling with sexual dysfunction.
- ED therapy: This treatment utilizes a combination of ED creams, gels, and injections to restore erectile health.
- RestoreWave therapy: This treatment uses sound waves to help improve circulation in the penis, leading to improved erections.
- Lifestyle changes: A healthy diet, regular exercise, and proper sleep techniques can go a long way in improving your blood flow.
Get in Touch with Cleveland, Ohio’s Best Male Doctors
If you’re struggling with anxiety and erectile dysfunction, know that you can get help.
The medical professionals at Precise Men’s Medical Center in Cleveland have the latest technology and most rigorous medical treatment plans to help our patients restore their erections in a safe manner.
Schedule a consultation with us today.