The Emotional Impact of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) On Sexual LifeDave Smith
Ads about erectile dysfunction (ED) are usually full of images of happy, healthy and virile men, to suggest that a medication for ED can restore a man’s youth. But despite a culture that seems determined to avoid aging, men and women slow down with age. Their bodies change, and for men, this includes the functioning of their penises.
Seen through the lens of our youth-centered culture, erectile dysfunction is seen only as a medical problem. However, sexual intercourse is more complicated than the mechanics of having sex. Allowing a man to achieve or maintain an erection does not necessarily improve his sex life if there are significant relationship problems.
Dr. James is a psychologist specializing in sexual and relationship issues. He talks and writes about how the ability to have and maintain an erection has significant meaning for men about their convenience and who they are as people; a meaning far beyond their sexual relations.
Dr. James suggests that as we address the physical component of erectile dysfunction, it is equally important to appreciate the vulnerability, shame and humiliation that the condition often brings. It is essential to understand that you can make men feel less like men and fear being unwanted or unworthy of their partner. Because of what ED means to them, they are affected by their self-esteem and are often depressed. As their “life force” decreases, they are also forced to face aging and their possible death.
In addition, James suggested that men often get better when they learn to listen to what their body is telling them and to face their existential struggles. They benefit from thinking deeply about their fears of old age, death, isolation, insignificance and loss of connection. When their partners are also sensitive and open to support them in the struggle with these struggles, their relationship can be transformed from a source of fear and potential loss to a source of strength and connection.
In facing these existential concerns, men can understand each other better and appreciate an enriched perspective of life. They can begin to see life full of opportunities instead of an increasingly difficult struggle against aging and loss of vitality. By using their DE as an opportunity to see themselves more deeply, they can cultivate a more satisfying and content relationship with themselves and enjoy a deeper and more connected relationship with their partners.