As a Certified Sex Therapist, I have helped many men understand what is going on with the...not so awesome...changes to their erection functioning. Often the issue creeps into their sex lives at first as a rare occurrence, only to ramp up to something more common, putting quite the damper on their willingness to jump into a fun sexual encounter and creating quite a bit of embarrassment, shame, and uncomfortable situations in their wake. Depsite the uncomfortableness it causes, erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that affects millions of men worldwide. While medical interventions like medications (i.e., Viagra, Cialis, etc.) and surgeries (usually a penile implant) exist, it's essential to understand that treating ED extends beyond the physical aspect -- and definitely a great place to begin to treat, if it is clearly (or maybe not so clearly) not a medical issue. Using a non-medical approach that focuses on pleasure, individuals can unlock a pathway to restoring sexual vitality, new discoveries, and overall well-being. Here I will explore various techniques and practices that prioritize pleasure as an integral part of treating erectile dysfunction -- which is what any good Certified Sex Therapist would do to help you restore pleasure to your sex life.
Cultivating Mind-Body Connection: One of the first steps in treating erectile dysfunction is to foster a healthy mind-body connection. Stress, anxiety, self-esteem issues, life changes and challenges, and negative emotions can all contribute to sexual difficulties. Engage in stress-reducing practices like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, can help you to learn how to calm the mind, enhance relaxation, and promote an overall sense of well-being, thereby making it more possible to be attuned to your body, in the moment, when you're trying to become intimate with your partner(s). Shifting your focus to your body, the pleasure it is receiving, and not on how your body is performing, frees up the mental space in your mind to get -- or remain -- mentally turned on to stay in the moment.
Communication and Emotional Intimacy: Developing open and honest communication with your partner is crucial when addressing erectile dysfunction, as ED is truly a "couple's issue." Often partners of the person experiencing ED find themselves hurt, wounded, or feeling they are somehow the cause of the lack of erection, as it is often seen as the ONE TRUE indicator of sexual arousal and interest. Guess what? That's is not true! There is so much more that goes into sexual arousal and desire than one factor. Having healthy communication and emotional intimacy with your partner(s) allows you to discuss your concerns, fears, and desires with them, and by nurturing emotional intimacy, you create a supportive environment that reduces performance anxiety, promotes trust, and fosters a deeper connection. Emotional closeness plays a pivotal role in enhancing pleasure and building confidence. Certified sex therapists are able to help you and your partner(s) learn how to work with and through the ED, rather than allowing it to dictate your encounters.
Sensate Focus Technique: The sensate focus technique is a therapeutic practice designed to increase pleasure and sensuality through increasing intimacy with communication and touch. In a brief nutshell, this technique involves setting aside time with your partner(s) to explore each other's bodies without the pressure of intercourse, thus removing the expectation (and pressure) to "perform" with a full erection. By focusing on sensual touch, you can rekindle the joy of physical intimacy and reconnect with the sensations of pleasure, allowing for your intentional focus to be on the sensations of pleasure with your partner(s), rather than worrying about whether or not your ED will show up. Gradually, and with lots of fun practice, this technique can lead to a reduction in performance anxiety and an improvement in erectile function.
Introducing Sensory Enhancements: Engaging multiple senses can heighten pleasure and arousal. Experiment with sensory enhancements like scented candles, silicone or water-based lubrications, soft music, or erotic literature to create a sensual ambiance. Explore the use of silk sheets, feather ticklers, or massage oils to stimulate the senses and promote relaxation. By engaging the mind and body in pleasurable experiences, you can create an environment conducive to overcoming erectile difficulties, as again, the focus will be shifted more to the pleasure you're giving and receiving than your erection.
Nurturing Self-Care: Self-care is a vital aspect of any holistic approach. Take care of your physical and emotional well-being by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Focus on regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Incorporate stress management techniques like hobbies, socializing, or spending time in nature. Prioritize self-care to reduce stress levels and improve overall mental & sexual health.
Seeking Professional Guidance: While self-help practices can be beneficial, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional specializing in sexual health, especially with a sex positive, certified sex therapist. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation, diagnose underlying causes, and suggest appropriate treatments based on the specifics of your situation. This may include recommending medications (which would require working in conjunction of a psychiatrist or other appropriate medical professional), therapies, or lifestyle changes tailored to your specific needs. Working with a professional ensures a personalized approach to treating erectile dysfunction and optimizing pleasure. This blog post, while specific treatment examples are being given, is not intended to be something used to self-diagnose or take the place of actual mental health/psychosexual treatment. Seek out a trusted sex positive, certified sex therapist to ensure your individual needs are able to be met. And, conversely, your sex therapist should not recommend medicinal, herbal, or other medical treatments for your ED -- that is why working collaboratively with a doctor is the best treatment route!
In the End: Treating erectile dysfunction that involves embracing a holistic approach that prioritizes pleasure, emotional connection, and overall well-being can often be the best treatment for most men. By adopting practices that nurture the mind-body connection, fostering open communication, and maybe exploring sensory enhancements, individuals can experience a renewed sense of pleasure and overcome sexual difficulties. By placing pleasure at the center of your approach, you can embark on a possible fulfilling and transformative path towards treating erectile dysfunction.