ED is a common problem among men and its cause can be attributed to a large number of factors both mental and physical, often combinations of associated conditions. It is defined as the inability to get or keep an erection and according to WebMD, “Psychological factors are responsible for about 10%-20% of all cases of erectile dysfunction. It is often a secondary reaction to an underlying physical cause.” *
If you’re one of the 30 million men in the United States with this problem then proper diagnosis is essential to finding a solution. Physical causes are easier to diagnose and should be your first step toward treatment. A doctor trained in treating sexual dysfunctions would review your medical history and perform a number of non-invasive tests to determine the causes and severity. In some cases blood analysis could help determine the causes. It’s important to keep in mind that ED can sometimes be a symptom or precursor of a much more serious physical ailment like cardiovascular disease or diabetes so it’s very important to consult with a doctor to find out early what is causing the condition. In other cases it may be lifestyle choices like excessive alcohol or smoking that can lead to ED.
If physical issues are ruled out as the prime cause then psychological issues should be considered, although they aren’t as easy to detect, diagnose or treat. The most common psychological causes include:
Anxiety – higher blood pressure and/or heart rates and fatigue are by-products of anxiety and can affect sexual performance.
Depression – caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, it can affect both desire and function. Not easy to diagnose but once treated most men can return to normal function (but note: some of the very drugs that alleviate depression can also lead to ED themselves).
Stress – as they say ‘stress kills’ and it can also kill your desire or sexual ability. One should look to decrease the conditions and environment that is causing this condition.
Fear – the fear itself of not performing or putting your relationship in jeopardy can become a self-fulfilling issue.
In many psychological cases, and especially when the person has deep rooted mental issues (often derived from early sexual abuse), consultation with a professional therapist is recommended.
So is ED psychological? It can be, but in the majority of cases it comes from physical causes that can be diagnosed and treated safely and effectively. All of us are unique and like us the variables around the condition of ED can be nuanced, benign or quite complex.
Psychological Impotence May Lead to Erectile Dysfunction
Psychological factors comprise about 10% of erection problems and many times result from nervousness, performance anxiety or fear of failure while lovemaking. These factors manifest physically through a surge of adrenaline, which reduces blood flow to the penile area, resulting in erectile difficulty and may lead to psychological erectile dysfunction. Psychological erectile dysfunction can become self-perpetuating. After multiple episodes of failure, the body becomes attuned to releasing adrenaline simply at the thought of a sexual encounter. This can develop into a vicious cycle extremely difficult to stop without treatment and may lead to actual erectile dysfunction.
Other less common causes include low sexual drive, anxiety, guilt, depression, or sexual boredom.
Psychological erectile dysfunction characteristics include the following:
- Maintaining or achieving an erection with one partner but not with another
- Maintaining lasting and strong erections in the mornings and during masturbation but not while lovemaking.
- Propensity to affect younger men with unsettling past experiences or relationships which are not stable.
*Source: WebMD, 2017.