"Self-acceptance and feeling good about yourself psychologically, biologically, and relationally is the key to staying sexually active throughout the lifespan." -Dr. Barry W. McCarthy
It is estimated that up to 76.5% of males around the world experience erectile difficulties at some point in their lives. Even though it is such a common situation, another study found that 75% of the participants did not seek treatment for erectile dysfunction due to embarrassment. Such concerns give rise to decreased self-esteem as well as existential and relational problems. Shame thrives in secrecy. For some men, erectile difficulties are one of their most guarded secrets. Men struggling with erectile difficulties often fall into a cycle of embarrassment, frustration, and -eventually- avoidance.
Part of the treatment is coming to terms with realistic expectations; we are not sexual machines that can be turned on and off at will. We get tired, distracted, bored, etcetera. As we grow older, our sexuality gains a beautiful landscape of complex layers that interact with one another. We need to learn to adapt to these changes, finding a path to create pleasure and satisfaction that is not attached to performance or an outcome.
Another aspect of the process is to come to terms with, accept, and embrace the current reality. Especially for the aging individual and those with medical conditions. Conditions such as those related to the cardiovascular, neuronal, or endocrine systems influence their sexual functioning. We examine predisposing, precipitating, and maintaining factors that contribute to the onset and maintenance of erectile issues. Coming to terms with reality is intrinsically linked to realistic expectations. In this stage, we also explore new ways to give and receive pleasure.
Experiential exercises that are designed to tune in to your body’s experience and slow down the process to learn the cues of desire, arousal, and orgasm, are important tools in sex counseling. In addition to these practices, we explore interpersonal relationships, cognitive, emotional, and social learning factors that make up your experience as you work to create more fulfilling and satisfying experiences.
Erectile Dysfunction is multifactorial and is influenced by medical, psychological, social, relational, and emotional systems. Exploring how they interact with each other and how they are perceived and experienced by the individual is a journey. This process entails acknowledging and adjusting your responses to the situation, opening up to the possibility of expanding your sexual repertoire to accommodate your newfound needs.
Thaina Cordero is a Certified Sexologist and Care Coordinator at Cypress Wellness Center. She has an MS in Educational Psychology, is a trauma-informed yoga teacher, and doctoral student of Clinical Sexology at Modern Sex Therapy Institute. She has completed Levels 1 and 2 of Clinical Foundations in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and works with individuals and couples as they explore their sexual expression, needs, fantasies, preferences, curiosities, and difficulties as they create more pleasurable, satisfying, and fulfilling sex lives and relationships. Click here to request an appointment.
McCarthy, B. & Metz, M. (2007) Men’s Sexual Health: Fitness for Satisfying Sex. Taylor & Francis. ISBN: 0415956382
Suijker CA, van Mazijk C, Keijzer FA, Meijer B. Phenomenological and existential contributions to the study of erectile dysfunction. Med Health Care Philos. 2021 Dec;24(4):597-608. doi: 10.1007/s11019-021-10029-0. Epub 2021 Jun 9. PMID: 34106416; PMCID: PMC8557142.