Many en have had a moment that their pecker failed at the moment when it counted most. Just when it comes down to it, it doesn’t get hard (enough). What causes erectile dysfunction and how can you – also when you are the partner – deal with it?
What is erectile dysfunction?
When a penis does not get entirely hard, or only a bit erect, or when it just can’t succeed in keeping it erect, it is called erectile dysfunction. The disability to get or keep an erection might prevent you from penetrating your partner.
About 14% of all men experience erectile dysfunction now and again in their lives. When men grow older, this percentage rises to 30% for men above 45, 40% for men over 60, and for men older than 70 it is even more than 50%.
Erectile dysfunction has nothing to do with the ability to ejaculate and it also doesn’t say anything about fertility of a man. In other words, a man that has erectile dysfunction does not have to be impotent.
How does an erection work, anyway?
A flaccid penis is on average 4 to 8 centimeters long. When a men gets an erection, it will grow to an average of 15-20 centimeters. Growing is actually not the correct word. The penis swells because erectile tissues (corpus cavernosum) is being pumped full with blood.
The penis has three of those swelling tissues. These are cylinder shaped ‘sponges’, filled with blood. Sexual arousal and sometimes even full relaxation, will cause the brain to send signals to the nerves around the penis. This will make the muscles around the arteries to relax. More blood will run into these sponges. At the same time, the draining blood vessels are being closed, so the blood can not run back. This causes the erection.
The part of the nerve system that manages the penis, is part of the autonomous nerve system. That is the part that also manages your heart beat and breathing. This explains why some men experience spontaneous erections, for instance when the penis is entrapped in a tight jeans. During the REM sleep, a healthy man will get up to 5 erections at night. Not because he has an erotic dream. Often, the erotic dream is a reaction to the erection, and not the other way around.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
When a man is not capable of getting or keeping an erection, there can be physical or mental causes.Sometimes the blood flow is not sufficient because of factors like obesity, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, diabetics, or drug use. Also there can be neurological conditions that play a role, or the pelvic muscles may function insufficiently. Further more, life style can play a role. Think of smoking habits, drugs or alcohol use, and stress.
When a man does have morning wood, but experiences erectile dysfunctions when having sex, there is often a mental cause. These may have to do with feeling a pressure to perform and deliver, but also with experiences in the past, tension and stress at work, or a disrupted relationship with the partner.
But also psychological causes like depression, grief/mourning, nerves, performance anxiety, upbringing and religion (sex is bad), or a vry negative self esteem can cause erectyle disfunction.
What can you do (together) when you experience erectile dysfunction?
First of all it is important to determine what the cause of the erectile dysfunction can be. Is it your life style, do you have a lot of stress? Do you get an erection when you masturbate or when you watch porn? DO you have a morning erection? Do you use drugs or do you have an illness? In other words: is your problem physical or mental? When you are not sure about the cause, you can get a medical exam.
Basically there are two ways to cure erectile dysfunction. You can take away the cause. Do you smoke and you think that may be the cause? Consider quit smoking. Does your pelvic muscles fail? Consider physio. Anxiety to fail? Go see a therapist. Your GP ca help to determine physical causes and finding a solution.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. Erectile dysfunction may get you in a vicious circle. Your anxiety to fail will get bigger and your self esteem won’t grow if your erection fails. In that case you may consider treating the symptoms, using an erection pill. Or you could consider using a penis pump, that will stimulate the blood flow.
Erectile dysfunction can also have its cause in the relationship. It is a very loaded subject and when partners don’t communicate it could lead to much bigger issues. Erectile dysfunction is often a bigger issue than the size or length and many men are ashamed about it.
Therefor it is important that you as a partner don’t put too much effort and don’t laugh at the problem. When your partner can’t get an erection during sex, don’t let the moment die, but be creative. Try something different, making it a great experience after all. Try mutual masturbation, do oral sex, watch porn together, …
Sex toys can play a role in treating erectile dysfunctions. A cock ring for example, will ensure that the blood is prevented from draining, causing the erection to stay longer. And the vibrations of a vibrator can make the penis get hard. Some men will experience a better erection when prostate toys are applied.
In short: An erection is not the world’s most important thing. Try to find out together what could be the cause and see if you need professional help. Often – especially when there are nop physical causes – it may be sufficient to lower the pressure and to make sex more creative. When all of that doesn’t help, go see your GP.