Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is a problem that affects more men than you might think, especially those aged between 40 and 70.
Not being able to get or sustain an erection is hugely embarrassing for any man and it can make you feel that you’re not a “real” man.
In reality, it can happen for a number of reasons – none of which make you any less of a man!
Here’s what to know about erectile dysfunction and how it can be treated.
Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
If it’s been happening for more than a few weeks, it’s best to see your doctor to check there are no underlying medical factors involved.
Erectile dysfunction can sometimes be an early warning sign of atherosclerosis, a condition in which the blood vessels narrow and it’s harder for blood to circulate through the body as it should.
This can affect smaller blood vessels first (including those going down to the penis), which is why it can be a sign of heart disease – both now and further down the line.
If you have existing health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, it’s particularly important to get your physical health checked out as you’re a bigger risk factor for heart-related causes.
Don’t worry too much about this as erectile dysfunction doesn’t necessarily mean that you have any heart problems or will go on to develop them in the future. Lots of men who are affected by erectile issues have a very healthy cardiovascular system even as they get older but it is something to be aware of so that it can be checked for and ruled out as a potential cause.
Other physical factors can include side effects of some medications and hormonal imbalances such as very low levels of testosterone.
Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Often, there will be no obvious physical reason why you’re experiencing erection related issues and it may be the case that psychological factors are the culprit instead.
Anxiety, stress, depression and relationship problems can all encourage erectile dysfunction and this can lead to a catch-22 situation in which your symptoms make you more stressed and a vicious circle develops.
If your erectile dysfunction isn’t chronic and you can get an erection in some situations but not others, there may be psychological factors at play. If you can’t get an erection in any scenario, it’s more likely to have a physical cause.
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
Admitting that you can’t get an erection isn’t easy but it’s important to get a proper diagnosis for erectile dysfunction so that you can start receiving treatment to get back to your former self again.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, general well being and lifestyle so that they can start to form a picture of what may be triggering your problems.
They’ll also do some physical checks on your blood pressure and heart and may also test the glucose and lipids in your blood to see if any conditions may be affecting your heart and blood vessels.
If they do find that your erectile dysfunction has a physical cause, they’ll obviously focus on treating that first of all. Lifestyle changes and medications may be recommended, for example.
Treating Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
If there isn’t any physical reason for your erectile dysfunction, the problem is likely to be psychological.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy can both help you to treat psychological factors of erectile dysfunction.
CBT uses the conscious part of your mind to change your thoughts patterns and can be used alongside hypnotherapy, which focuses on the unconscious part of your mind.
The unconscious mind is very powerful and it is this that is controlling your inability to get an erection.
Anxiety and stress are commonly linked to erectile dysfunction but at this stage, you may not actually know what is actually to blame for these feelings. Sometimes it will be obvious what the underlying emotional factor is but not always, and this is where hypnotherapy can go a step further than CBT.
A hypnotherapist can help you to tap into your unconscious mind to get to the bottom of what is triggering the negative emotions that are then impacting on your erections.
Once this has been established, they can work with you to change negative thought patterns that are linked to erectile dysfunction and use the power of suggestion to reduce the anxiety/stress that is affecting your sexual performance.
As long as you are fully committed to the idea, having hypnotherapy could be the end of your erectile dysfunction.
For situations where there is no physical factors dictating whether you can get an erection or not, this is often all it takes to overcome the psychological causes so you can get back to feeling as you did before!
It’s an embarrassing problem to discuss but it’s really important to be as open as you can – both with what you share and your willingness to take suggestions on board during the sessions.
You may feel like the only man who is unlucky enough to have been affected but chances are, an experienced hypnotherapist will have successfully treated at least a few clients with erectile dysfunction and won’t be fazed by anything you tell them.