Most involve physiological factors that restrict blood flow to the penis. But not all. Experts state that approximately 10% are rooted in psychological ones, instead.
Known as psychological erectile dysfunction, this is a condition in which a man’s emotional state directly impacts his ability to achieve and maintain an erection. In other words, the physical properties are intact and fully functional, but there are mental stressors that limit his sexual abilities.
So the question is, what actually causes men to experience psychological erectile dysfunction (ED)? The truth? ED is a complex sexual dysfunction. It is not limited to physiological factors. It stems beyond that and into things that cause stress, pressure and anxiety.
In most cases, psychological ED is not addressed. Instead, you’ll find a variety of topics related to the functions of the body. This includes things like diet, obesity, blood pressure, and other related medication that might cause ED.
But there’s far more to it than that. And in order to truly understand how things like stress, mental health, and environmental factors can cause ED, we need to dive further into this topic. Knowledge is power. And education can most certainly catalyze change.
The Basics of Psychological Erectile Dysfunction
In a physiological sense, erectile dysfunction occurs when the blood vessels responsible for transporting blood to the penis become constricted. This is caused by a myriad of factors, from diabetes and hypertension to high cholesterol and alcoholism.
Often, men who experience these symptoms are at risk for other conditions, including heart disease and heart attack. Why? The blood vessels near the penis are some of the shortest in the body. If they’re narrowing, it could signify that other vessels will be shortly following suit.
While this can be a debilitating and humiliating condition, the good news is that with the proper treatment plan, many men are able to control and even reverse their physiological erectile dysfunction.
Conversely, psychological erectile dysfunction results in the same symptoms. However, it’s not associated with blood vessel constriction. Rather, it comes from emotional and mental strain. That leads the inability to achieve an erection.
The most commonly cited causes of psychological ED include:
- Low Self-Confidence
Let’s take a closer look at each of these to understand the distinct correlation.
To those who haven’t experienced it, depression can seem like merely “the blues.” Yet, sufferers know all too well the depths to which it can travel.
Of course, there are emotions of sadness intermixed with depression. Yet, these feelings aren’t simply reactions to current events. Rather, they’re there morning, noon and night. And they’re unshakable. You might get upset over a bad day at work but bounce back the next day. A depressed person, on the other hand, can’t find that silver lining as quickly.
Depression sinks in and settles like a dark cloud inside of a valley, unable to be shaken off or dismissed. Wondering if you’re clinically depressed? Some common symptoms include:
- Disinterest in old favorite hobbies
- Unwillingness to participate in daily routines
- Feelings of helplessness
- Outbursts of irritability and anger
- Constant fatigue and low energy levels
- Anxiety and general uneasiness
- Difficulty focusing and thinking clearly
Someone in the throes of depression may have a difficult time rousing the physical and mental energy required to go outside and get the mail. In fact, they might opt to stay in bed most of the day.
One thing that might be especially undesirable?
An overwhelming feeling of worthlessness can feel almost impossible to shake without the proper medical attention. Until the sufferer seeks treatment, such psychological impotence may still exist.
2. Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two words that are often interchanged. When you have a million things piling up to do and not enough time in the day to accomplish them, you might feel stressed.
The physical response to stress is often anxiety, which is characterized by shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations and more. When we experience this reaction, we, in turn, feel more stress and the domino effect continues.
When considering some of the causes of ED that are psychological in nature, we can lump stress and anxiety into the same general category, as they are not independent of each other.
How do stress and anxiety lead to mental erectile dysfunction? The answer lies in the change they create within our minds.
Engaging Bodily Systems
In general, there are three primary types of erections.
A reflective erection is brought on physical touch and stimulation. A psychogenic one stems from viewing live sights or still images intended to provoke a sexual response. Third, a nocturnal erection, as the name suggests, occurs while the man is sleeping.
While these are different in nature and circumstance, they all rely on certain synapses to fire off within our brains. Put simply, our bodily systems have to be in top working order and the signals to them must be strong. The important systems include our:
- Hormones and emotions
- Nervous system
- Blood vessels
When a man is feeling stressed or anxious, those mental connections are more difficult to form. There may be a feeling of brain fog and confusion, instead of clarity.
3. Relationship Woes
There are many issues that could be present within a relationship that lead to psychological erectile dysfunction. For instance, a man might be feeling untrusted, unsupported or unfulfilled in the union.
Or, perhaps there has been a long-standing fissure that’s threatened to erupt for a long time. One partner could want children while the other does not. One works long hours and the other is at home.
Regardless of the underlying reason, the reality is that it’s possible to become so wrapped up in the drama, those issues begin to bleed over into a couple’s sex life.
Along those same lines, when a relationship is forced to navigate erectile dysfunction in any of its forms, both physiological and psychological, that struggle creates a chasm, as well.
4. Performance Anxiety
Ironically, the more worked up a man gets prior to sexual intercourse, the more he can end up psyching himself out and cultivating performance anxiety.
He worries about impressing his partner. And it consumes him. He wonders what she’s thinking and the whole event becomes more calculated. That leads to overthinking, which takes the so-called air out of his sails.
When these negative thoughts take over, they can be difficult to shake. They’re often based on concerns around physical statute such as penis size, body shape or level of perceived “manliness.”
Instances of performance anxiety are only amplified after one misfire. Even if a man enjoys a satisfying and healthy sex life, the one time that he isn’t able to perform up to par is the one that will stick with him.
5. Shame and Guilt
These two emotions are often linked to performance anxiety, but they are slightly different.
At its core, performance anxiety stems from nervousness and an eagerness to please. It happens when someone is so hyper-focused on doing a good job that it becomes an emotional handicap.
On the other hand, shame and guilt might arise once a man realizes he is unable to fulfill his partner or take on his dominant role in the relationship. Think about it: Someone carrying around the burden of guiltiness is likely too busy thinking about those feelings to attempt to achieve an erection.
Guilt and shame are commonly linked to depression, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Persons who carry around misplaced guilt and crippling shame have a difficult time tipping those scales in their favor.
6. Unrealistic Expectations
This last mental connection primarily applies to men who view a large amount of pornography or simply spend a majority of their time daydreaming up ideal sexual scenarios.
This makes it difficult to become excited over a real-life encounter. Instead, they’re as devoid of the theatrics and flashiness of a movie set or magazine cover.
As such, men who spend a lot of their time looking at these images actually train their brains to expect this type of interaction in order to stimulate erection and climax. Lately, researchers have been delving deeper into this topic and revealing its nuances, even giving it its own name: pornography-induced erectile dysfunction.
7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Studies show that 70% of people in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. Of this amount, 20% eventually develop PTSD as a result.
This is a disorder in which a person has a difficult time mentally recovering from a particularly terrifying time in their lives. Though the situation may be long over, those feelings still linger. As such, many sufferers experience such symptoms as:
- Heightened, reflexive responses
- A depressed outlook
A recent study shows that erectile dysfunction rates are higher among the PTSD community than the civilian one. Moreover, the issue extends to women as well, with many female veterans with PTSD citing an inability to become aroused, vaginal dryness and vaginal pain.
From desire and arousal to orgasm and satisfaction, there are many components of sex that PTSD directly impacts and numbs. Military sexual trauma only exacerbates the issue.
Diagnosing Your Psychological ED
Now that we’ve covered a few of the psychological conditions that could be leading to your erectile dysfunction, are you finding some truths in here that apply to you?
If so, it’s time to speak to your medical professional. Since most cases of ED are linked to physiological factors, the doctor will perform a physical examination first and take the time to review your medical history.
Don’t be afraid, embarrassed or ashamed to bring up your concerns in this setting. Doing so can open the doors you need to heal. To get an accurate view of how your systems are functioning and to rule out any underlying medical concerns such as hypertension, your doctor may request the following tests:
- Lipid profile
- Fasting blood glucose
- Complete blood count
In addition, he may also ask you to fill out an extensive questionnaire regarding your concerns. For instance, you may have to answer questions surrounding your libido, the length of time it takes you to reach an erection, how long you can maintain an erection, your sexual satisfaction level and more.
In the meantime, here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine if your ED could be more psychological than it is physiological:
- Are you still attracted to your partner and interested in having sex even when your performance is compromised?
- What are your current stress levels like?
- Have you been feeling more overwhelmed lately?
- Do you experience performance anxiety in the bedroom?
- Are you anxious over pleasing your partner or proving your self-worth?
Take the time to review these questions thoroughly and answer them honestly. You may be able to diagnose yourself from home, though you’ll still need a doctor to confirm your suspicion.
Find Help for Your Psychological ED Today
It’s difficult to talk about and harder to suffer through, but psychological erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your sex life.
Today, there are FDA-approved treatments that can help get you back on your feet and back in the bedroom quicker than you may have thought possible.
Yet, seeking them out and getting them into your hands can be a complicated and revealing process. If you’d rather seek out the prescriptions you need as discreetly as possible, we’d love to help.
Get started by using our simple online interface. You’ll input your symptoms and a doctor will review it in real time. From there, you’ll connect with a virtual healthcare professional and receive an online prescription at your doorstep in days.
To learn more, contact us today. There’s an Alpha Male in there, and he’s ready to break free.