It is estimated that erectile dysfunction – also known as impotence could be affecting about 30 million men in the United States, with a higher incidence in older men, though not necessarily all older men suffer from sexual dysfunction. A study published in 1994 – made in a sample of healthy men between 40 and 70 years by the Massachusetts Male Aging Study found that about 52% of men surveyed had experienced some degree of (minimal, moderate or complete) erectile dysfunction.
Often, erectile dysfunction is only a symptom of other serious illness that must be addressed, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. However, few men attending doctor for erectile dysfunction is treated. Only in recent years, with the emergence of drug called “sildenafil” (Viagra®), and similar drugs, it has generated greater awareness among the public about the need to address this sexual difficulty, probably because of the hope that the Science has made to overcome this problem.
These emotional and interpersonal effects of erectile dysfunction are a clear indication that it is also important to enlist the help of a doctor and a psychotherapist to fully overcome the effects of this sexual difficulty.
Emotional impact and self-esteem
A man suffering from erectile dysfunction may feel less happy and desirable than a man who is living a perfect sexual life. Many men experience anxiety, depression and low self-esteem as a result of erection problems. The emotional impact of ED is often a heavy burden, since usually they tend to express their feelings and emotions less than women. Much less when they feel their personal worth has been affected by the difficulty in erection.
The ability to achieve an erection is one of the most important symbols of masculine identity. Losing this ability directly affects self-esteem and self-image of a man. Therefore, it is not easy to talk about this subject with your partner or go to the doctor promptly. According to some research, in the hierarchy of signs of masculinity in sexual activity, the ability to achieve an erection is on top of the list followed by the ability to penetrate, sexual desire and finally, the ability to ejaculate. The inability to have an erection can have a serious impact on the identity, psychological stability and the role that a man plays in the outside world – including their relationship – and thus, in what society thinks of it. Thus, the ability to perform sexually is very important for a man.
Impact on relationship
Every relationship has its unique characteristics, and a way of living sexuality that is very intimate and private. When a man suffers from erectile dysfunction, the relationship is affected, and he as an individual often experience shame, humiliation and guilt. Often these emotions become barriers to talk to your partner about the problem. The man ends up falling back emotionally and physically by fear of failure, which further undermines the relationship. The fear of any form of physical contact becomes a requirement of intercourse by the couple, often generates avoidance of intimate contact. The performance anxiety worsens and man can fall into states of deep depression and end up feeling disinterest in any kind of sexual activity.
Some researchers estimate that the disorder in erection is involved in one in five failed marriages. The impact on the relationship can be very large, affecting trust, intimacy and closeness with your partner. Meanwhile, the woman may believe that her partner has lost interest in her, and think that this is the cause of the lack of erection problem. As a result, it is perceived less attractive, low self-esteem, and end up feeling rejected and abandoned. Also, she may be afraid that her partner is being unfaithful and believe that he is sexually involved with other women. This creates various fears and misunderstandings when it actually needed is that the couple communicate openly about the relationship and the impact that erectile dysfunction are causing both. At this point, turning to sex therapy may be helpful for the patient and the partner.
Impact in the workplace
Erectile dysfunction can also affect how a man interacts with his circle of friends and colleagues. This sexual difficulty affects self-esteem, joy of life and morality, though it remains outside appearance of strong man. Productivity tends to decrease as a result of the impact on self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Feeling alone with their problems tends to also be isolated from colleagues and friends.
On the other hand, failure at work also has an impact on male sexuality. Unable to the expected promotion, having financial problems or not having the respect of colleagues, are examples of situations that may affect sexual performance of a man and generate episodes of erectile dysfunction. These difficulties to be situational nature have better prognosis, since when the work related problem goes away, the man usually returns to a normal sexual response. However, when erectile dysfunction undermines labor productivity, the impact is much more serious. When the impact reaches the workplace, a man can experience a blow in his personal identity, especially when the race takes centre stage in your life, which is common in most men. Recourse to psychotherapy at this point should not be viewed as an option but a necessity.