Erectile Dysfunction: Brief Treatment Guide on How to Overcome It
Erectile Dysfunction: Brief treatment guide in how to overcome it. The level of daily stress is enough to encourage situations in which you are not able to perform as expected. A single sexual failure can easily become a sexual dysfunction. If you want to know the mechanisms by which it happens and how to overcome the problem, continue reading:
“Do not worry, it happens to everyone.”
How many times have we heard this phrase in movies, series, plays, books, magazines, etc.? Some may have also heard the fateful words in person, which is even worse. The commonly known, impotence can become men’s worst nightmare. In most cases the problem is psychological, hence the brain is known as “the most powerful sexual organ.”
History of a paradox
When we try to address a problem of this nature (I fear that in this article everything acquires double meaning) the medical term helps very little: “Erectile dysfunction.” Ufff … It sounds like a lifelong incurable conviction. This is the consequence of handing labels to everything, giving it too much importance.
There are natural processes in our body that are affected by the mere fact of thinking about them (particularly when these thoughts are negative). The main things people see doctors for, regarding thinking too much, is sleep and sex.
Let’s imagine that tomorrow I have a very important meeting at work and I need to be well rested. Here is the paradox: Every minute I spend lying in bed without sleep will increase my worry that I might not be well rested and decrease my sleep. It may sound exaggerated, but it is true, this insomnia is something punctual, and is related to the stress surrounding an important meeting. This is common for people suffering from insomnia, without physiological characteristics that explain it.
Sleep is evolutionary. When our ancestors came to the cave after hunting all day, they needed to sleep. Stress acts to eliminate sleep so you can fight the threat at hand. Back then, it was more useful to be alert than to rest because you could end up eaten by some beast.
The same thing happens when we have concerns about sex and try to control it. In moments where danger and stress are imminent, our predecessors had to keep it in their pants until everything was safe and calm.
Phrases like “Today you have to perform correctly”, “if you are not up for the challenge your partner is going to leave you” “this is embarrassing and everyone will find out, etc” can make us forget the most important aspect of sex which is to enjoy.
An Example on Erectile Dysfunction
No, gentlemen, put your hands away from your privates, this is not an example where we will need hands. We want to show you how the attempt to pay attention to an automatic mechanism causes the alteration of the same. In this case, let’s focus on breathing. Are you aware of how many times you breathe per minute? Twelve to twenty times per minute in healthy adults. If one hour has 60 minutes and one day 24 hours and one year 365 days then (bear with me Math is my least favorite subject):
12 times/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day x 365 days/year=
Six million, three hundred and seven thousand, two hundred puffs a year. Note that I used the value 12, but could have used any number between 12 and 20. Ok, now that we have answered this question, how many of these breaths are we aware of? Surely very few, even people who frequently use relaxation techniques, mindfulness or yoga will not become aware of all of them. Ok now let’s do the following exercise:
- Sit comfortably
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach abdomen
- Concentrate on your breathing (DON’T TRY TO CONTROL IT)
- Set a timer for 30 seconds and count the number of times you breathe
- Try not to influence your breathing in any way.
Hello again. I guess if you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve finished your breathing exercise. If so, in a high percentage of cases it will be correct to say that it has been difficult for you to let your breathing do the work alone. You tried to focus on it, without manipulating it, but then realized that it was you who was directing it. What we want to make clear is that worrying or trying to control certain processes only hinders them.
Erectile Dysfunction: Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill
Humans have the ability to create big problems from small obstacles. We are the representation of the saying “the cure is worse than the illness”. Most psychological problems start as the solution to a problem or concern. The world is full of germs and bacteria impossible to see through the human eye. There are people who in their eagerness to avoid contact with them (something impossible, by the way) become obsessed and put into practice compulsive behaviors, (washing hands constantly, not touching doors, not shaking hands, using gels and a long etc.) This leads to what we know as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Let’s put an imaginary example of what could happen to a person suffering from erectile dysfunction. We will advance to the worst case where the boy has had several failures and is now suffering a sex aversion. Let’s look at the process:
1- It’s more common than you may think
Lots of stress at home and at work, your favorite time has just been eliminated and your car broke down. This makes it difficult for you to feel aroused and your sexual organ feels the consequence. This is completely normal and it can happen to anyone.
2- First doubts
“What if it happens to me again?” The seed of doubt has been planted, and the nerves will continue until next time.
3- The pink elephant
Take the test: Do not think of a pink elephant. What has come to mind? A pink elephant, of course. The same happens if our unhappy young man tries not to think about his last erectile dysfunction.
4- Think about something else
Since it seems to not work, he tries the opposite effect, distracting himself with irrelevant information (shopping list, names of actors with a Y, etc.)
5- Disconnection and repeated dysfunction
The distraction didn’t help because the boy disconnected from the task he was about to perform which made the sexual organ flaccid and another erectile dysfunction happened.
6- Vicious Cycle of Sexual Dysfunction
After several tries and getting the same result, negative and catastrophic thoughts start to arise. “I won’t be able to do it again” “I am going to fail” “My partner is going to leave me” Stress increases and so does sexual avoidance. Now, the problem has become a serious one.
Erectile Dysfunctions: Sexual Mistakes
Listed below are 3 typical mistakes that can only make things worse.
1- Don’t drink and have sex
Against all our common sense, alcohol is erectile dysfunction’s best friend. For your sexual organ to perform properly it needs all the blood supply it can get, alcohol reduces this blood supply and it makes it difficult for your organ to become erect.
2- Avoid common excuses
Avoid phrases such as “don’t worry”, “this is normal” “it happens to everyone”, etc. These phrases can hinder further the man’s self-esteem and strength the problem. This is because some of these phrases can sound condescending or as if the problem was not as important. This can lead to depression.
3- Don’t be stubborn
As we have said before, we make problems bigger than they really are. We stubbornly try to solve the problem as fast as we can making the same mistakes along the way. As Einstein said, “If you are looking for different results, don’t do the same always”.
Tips to fight Erectile Dysfunction
1 – Dismiss other problems
Many cases of erectile dysfunction have a psychogenic origin. It’s a circular cycle of anxious thoughts that continue to feed the dysfunction. However, there are other cases where the problem is a biological one that prevents a successful erection. If it appears suddenly, after a stressful period, chances are it is not a biological problem. Nonetheless, it is always imperative to see a doctor.
2- Read about it
Whether it is this article or others it is important to access information about what is happening. A fundamental part of any therapy is psychoeducation. By learning about the problem we can understand it better and help ourselves.
3- Don’t avoid the subject
Phrases such as the ones mentioned above tend to dimish the importance of the problem. Therefore, it’s important to address the problem straight forward. Include phrases like “these things happen because of stress, what is it that makes you so nervous?”. Just remember to speak bluntly about the subject.
4- Symptom Prescription
Symptom prescription is a technique whereby you address the symptoms that someone brings to therapy by encouraging them in some way to engage in those symptoms. Therefore, you will be asked to practice intercourse without giving it too much thought.
5- Keep Calm!
Intercourse is just one way of having sex, however, it’s not the only one. Erectile dysfunction usually happens when engaging in intercourse, therefore we encourage you to explore each other without penetration. This will help create new associations and reduce anxiety symptoms highly related to erectile dysfunction.
6- Be Patient
By engaging in something prohibited it makes moments previous to the act filled with passion and less stress. Since there is no pressure to fulfill the complete act then it makes it more irresistible and helping the paradox created in the symptom prescription to disappear in a short time, you just have to be patient.
Breaking with Erectile Dysfunction- Conclusion
Counterconditioning is important to break free from erectile dysfunction. This means that something associated with something negative (sex with stress) is associated again, with something positive (sex with pleasure).
This post might not be as helpful as a therapist or as a doctor in biological cases, but it can help you grasp what is happening behind erectile dysfunction. Sex is a natural, healthy aspect of our lives and it’s important to enjoy it to the fullest. Make love and not war.
This article is originally in Spanish written by Diego Remón, translated by Alejandra Salazar.
Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.