Erectile dysfunction affects millions of men around the world. In the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examinational Survey (NHANES), 1 in 5 men will experience erectile difficulty sometime in their life – that’s 20% of all men! And the chances of having it at some point in your life only increases with age. While not life-threatening, it does greatly affect a man’s quality of life: his self-confidence, his career, and his relationships.
Erectile dysfunction, in which a man has difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, can be triggered by either physical or physiological causes. While these physiological causes can be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as diseases which harden the arteries or diabetes, or may be a side effect of some prescription drugs or radiation.
But most cases of erectile dysfunction have psychological causes. That is, the problem is rooted in negative feelings, such as guilt, stress, worry, anger – you name it. If you’re too focused on the bad day at work, or the fight you had with someone earlier on, or even further back than that, it’s going to affect your sex life. A simple way to help determine whether your problem is psychological or physical is the frequency of erections – ie if you can have an erection sometimes, such as in your sleep, then most likely your dysfunction is caused by a psychological issue.
Unfortunately the pharmaceutical companies make big money off of men feeling like they have no other option but to turn to medication to cure their erectile dysfunction. That’s not true at all in most cases. It’s about creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Try the alternatives first before you turn to a costly medication that can become a crutch rather than an aid.
A healthy lifestyle is far more important than you think in enjoying a satisfying sex life. Be sure to take care of both your mind and body if you want to battle this period of sexual dysfunction. Of course it takes some work but its far more tolerable than the alternative. And it’s not just your sex life that you’re improving, but your overall health and well being. It may seem obvious that taking care of yourself means better sex, but too many of us forget this.
Forget drinking to excess or smoking, because these are two of the most common erection killers. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, tightening blood vessels and restricting blood flow, and beware of the dreaded “whiskey-dick.”
Too many of us don’t get enough sleep. While the ideal differs from person to person, the average is about 8 to 9 hours a night. It’s not good enough to just sleep in on the weekends to make up for those lost hours; it catches up with you. This leads to your body and mind being physically exhausted, which means too exhausted for sex.
Make sure to get regular exercise – recently the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) discovered that men who exercise three to five times a week are 30% less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Exercise also helps to keep your stress lower than without it.
If you feel that your psychological factors run deeper than just needing to blow off some steam or talking to a friend, consider confiding in a registered sex therapist who is trained in dealing with any issues that are to blame.