Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction is often frustrating for everyone. When medical causes have been ruled out, then psychological causes may be the culprit.
There is a lot of information out there about the power of the mind. It can be an incredible super power of sorts, especially when we are overcoming something very difficult or accomplishing an incredible feat. However, it can also work the other way. The power of the mind can be crippling. With enough negative self-talk and self-doubt, we humans can successfully sabotage ourselves into not even getting out of bed. Ever hear of self-fulfilling prophecy?
“Whether you think you can or whether you think can’t, you’re right.”
- Henry Ford -
This applies to our sexuality as well; for men, this is called “psychological erectile dysfunction.” The bad news is, because your brain is your own worst enemy in this case, it will require work on your part. The good news is, it is treatable! You don’t have to suffer in silence. You are in control of your own health, including sexual health, and you can overcome this.
It is very important for you to know that you are not alone. In 2007, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study reported that 18 million men in the United States have difficulties obtaining or maintaining an erection. And as many as 20% of all cases of ED each year are psychologically-based.
Underlying physical issues are the most likely source of ED, but they are not the only possible cause. To learn more about erectile dysfunction and other causes, visit our blogs on the the topic.
For those who are otherwise healthy but finding it difficult to have or maintain erections, psychological ED should be considered. If you’re able to have an erection while alone or you have consistent morning erections, then having a discussion about psychological ED with your healthcare provider is worth having.
Any type of sexually traumatic experience has the potential to leave emotional and psychological scars that impact one’s ability to participate in sexual activity. However, the causes of psychological ED we are discussing here are typically related to general life experiences and the individual’s perception of those experiences.
Most Common Causes of Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
There are a variety of stressors that can cause impotence. Some examples are stress related to work, relationships, parenting and even trying to do too much in general. Sometimes we just take on more than we should, which increases feelings of anxiety, stress and being overwhelmed. The reason why stress can cause sexual dysfunction is because the stress hormones that are released by the brain interrupt the signals to the penis to a.) allocate more blood to that area, and 2.) allow blood to fill the space.
As anyone who suffers from depression knows, it completely sucks the joy out of life. It robs you of enjoyment, so it makes sense that it would affect your desire to engage in sexual activity. If you aren’t interested in sex because of depression, then your brain won’t bother sending excitatory signals to your penis and there won’t be an erection.
Generalized anxiety may cause a person to be anxious about everything or only a few things. Regardless of the specific source of the anxiety, generalized anxiety can impact sexual desire and performance.
Remember our quote above? This is where the self-fulfilling prophecy really comes into play. If a person is too self-conscious to perform, or is too “in his own head,” the fear of failure can really cause the impotence.
You may be ready and willing to engage in sexual activity, but if you are having major challenges in your relationship, your body may rebel. Another real issue is fear of impregnating your partner, especially if she wants children and you do not. Or perhaps you have been trying to have children, but have not yet conceived. This extra pressure can be enough to cause erectile issues.
No judgement here. Just be aware that pornography has the power to rewire our neural pathways, which can result in ED. The rewiring can dramatically change what sexually stimulates a person; this means the variety of sexual situations presented in pornography can make your partner seem less exciting and desirable compared to what you see in porn. It could even result in zero sexual interest in your partner.
What to do?
When psychological causes of erectile dysfunction may be suspected, communication is key.
It is easier said than done, but open communication with your partner is imperative to overcoming psychological ED. Even though it seems like this is your issue alone, it definitely impacts your partner and relationship. Once underlying physical issues are ruled out, it can be very helpful to speak with a professional who can help you talk through the psychological root cause so you can begin the process of healing. It may mean a visit to a sex therapist, or simply a stress reduction plan.
If you would like a complimentary consultation with one of our pelvic health specialists, who can help guide you toward a solution that is right for you, please complete the form below. Our Clinic Director will contact you within 24 hours to schedule your appointment.