Posted on

Erectile Dysfunction

Q. My problem is that I am sexually “shy”, for lack of a better euphemism. I have no problem achieving an erection during foreplay, even for extended periods of time, but the moment that it’s time to actually have sex I lose it. This used to happen only on random occasions but my fear of recurrence has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and I think that for all concerned I should give up trying to have sex altogether. To make matters worse, ( if that’s possible) when I am able to have an erection, I experience premature ejaculation! I wonder if it is because every woman I’ve been with has cheated on me. When I last had a long-term relationship the problem completely went away. I never had trouble having sex with her, and it was probably partly due to the fact that I didn’t feel inhibited even walking around naked in front of her. For almost anybody else though I just don’t want to be seen naked. I cannot get myself to believe that I am very attractive (especially without clothes), and I think that male genitalia and especially mine are hideous. Please help! 

A. I may be jumping to conclusions, but it sounds like you aren’t in an emotionally close relationship at the moment but rather have been attempting to have sex within the context of more casual dating scenarios. That just might not work for you; at least it might not work for parts of you. If you are with someone long enough that you’re more comfortable with whatever happens, your problem might take care of itself. If you’re trying to have sex absent the intimacy, as much as that’s the macho American ideal, it could easily explain your experience. Casual sex just doesn’t work very well for lots of folks. I think it’s particularly significant that in a long-term relationship, this problem goes away. That says that as much as you might think it should be otherwise, you are the kind of person that needs that for sex to be good. It could be lots, lots worse!

Depending on how long you’ve experienced this, and under what circumstances it occurs; I would suggest a couple of different things. It sounds fixable, but I think you’re going to need help (of the professional sort) to do it. I can also tell you confidently that the sooner the better. Unfortunately, there are very few therapists in this area with expertise in treating sexual dysfunctions. I’ll send you some suggestions privately.

I would hate to see you avoid sex altogether rather than risk it happening. In the short term, I would suspect that erection dysfunction medications like Cialis and Viagra would work well for you, and that could help you get over the psychological self-fulfilling prophecy part. You should be able to get a prescription from your provider. And no, it isn’t just you. Especially when it comes to condoms, many, many men have erection trouble. In fact, I have 3 questions in my “to be answered” file that are variations on this same theme.

You’re dealing with a learned response, and what you need to do is unlearn it. That’s a little harder to do than it sounds, but certainly not TOO hard (ouch, really bad pun, sorry). And just so you know, people with ED (erectile dysfunction) very often have Premature Ejaculation when they finally do get an erection.

Good sex happens within the context of healthy relationships. I recommend that you spend some energy figuring out what you need to do to be able to handle a mature, adult, honest relationship and I would bet a large sum of money that will take care of the issue once and for all.

In general, this kind of dysfunction is related to anxiety. It is just another form of it. Probably beats panic attacks, but it still sucks. Feeling like you’re unattractive to your partner almost necessarily precludes that your experience will be satisfying. Feeling like your penis is unattractive, in particular, will make this problem much worse. In relationship, people become more comfortable with each other, and those voices inside become quieter as they’re replaced by the compliments partners pay one another.

You could think about it this way. Lots of unattractive people, probably much more unattractive than you imagine yourself to be when you’re beating up on yourself, are having good sex. Your anxiety is triggering your self-doubt, and also pushing the play button on those tapes inside your head. The things I know of that work for anxiety are: Stop smoking pot (really, I know it sounds crazy but it matters), avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate), meditate regularly, exercise regularly, avoid heavily processed foods and very importantly, identify the irrational thoughts that are keeping you from feeling good and replace them with self-statements that serve you.

Lastly, and I hope you already know this; there are LOTS and LOTS of amazing ways to “satisfy” your sexual partners even if your penis doesn’t cooperate. What makes sex really, really good doesn’t have much to do with perfect bodies or perfect penises, it has to do with knowing your partners, and allowing them to know you.