Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often associated with physical causes like circulatory problems. However there are also emotional and psychological problems associated with the condition. The dysfunction can not only cause emotional distress, but emotional factors can contribute to the dysfunction when the penis is capable of erection. The fear of ‘failing’ leads to an embarrassment which can cause the dysfunction, leading to a vicious cycle. The embarrassment around the dysfunction, even talking about it can lead to ‘shutting down’. This then leads to intimacy being avoided and eventually relationship breakdown through lack of connection.
Some of the psychological causes of ED include depression, anxiety around performance, low self-esteem, fatigue, trauma, stress, lack of sexual arousal, relationship difficulties and so on.
Although it is always best to seek advice from your GP, counselling can also help with the emotional causes and reactions to erectile dysfunction. There are different types of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psycho-Sexual therapy, sex therapy and so on. Often the therapy can involve exploring what lies behind thoughts and feelings around sex such as unrealistic expectations, fears, distorted beliefs and so on. This exploration can lead to a better understanding. A therapist can help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself. They can help you recognise that unhelpful thinking habits, beliefs, predictions etc and physical sensations are linked. This better understanding can help you challenge unhelpful beliefs and thinking habits. It can also lead to better communication with your partner. This can help lead to a healthier relationship and intimacy with each other.
Therapy which involves both partners has shown to be beneficial. This is when both partner’s concerns can be explored in a safe environment. Exercises and techniques to improve relaxation and stimulation can also be discussed to improve intimacy.
If you have experienced erectile dysfunction remember it is a positive sign to seek support.
This article was written by sentientcounselling