As men age, it’s incredibly common for their erections to change in size and duration. Due to the natural process of aging, many people jump to the conclusion that changes in their erections are erectile dysfunction. However, erectile dysfunction is a specific condition and doesn’t affect everyone—what they may have is dissatisfaction with their erection.
Is It Dysfunction?
A good barometer for whether you have erectile dysfunction is whether you can masturbate after a period without orgasms. If you cannot, you may fit the medical qualifications for having a dysfunction. However, if you can get hard, but it’s simply not as hard or often or long as you would like, this may be more of a psychological condition or the natural process of aging.
What Might Block Your Best Erections
Frequently, what is happening when you aren’t happy with your erections is that your brain focuses on something else during sex. This experience is your body showing you that your mind would like you to address something, so it’s crucial to pay attention to these signals. Perhaps you have shame over past sexual experiences, or maybe you have performance anxiety that prevents you from being present in the moment. If you can pinpoint a nerve-wracking experience you had early in your sex life, you’ll begin to understand what the underlying cause is.
Insecurities that arise as you begin to engage in sexual activity are problematic for erections. Not only can they make you feel undesirable and inadequate, they take you from feeling sexual sensations in your body and put you back in your head. And, unfortunately, being in your head isn’t great for sex. Your mind interprets insecurity as a form of danger, and that can put the kibosh on any chance of an erection. Instead, you want to be in your body and in the moment. Your mind’s distractions can make it hard to relax, and you must feel a sense of calm to retain an erection.
Creating an Environment to Encourage Your Erection
Before you can get back to your best erections, you have to set the scene for success. The first thing is to deal with the emotions you have from prior experiences that you feel shame about—outside the bedroom—so that you don’t have constant, intrusive thoughts about them during sex. Then, get other distractions out of sight. Remove your cell phone so that you don’t accidentally see the notification that your boss just emailed at the exact wrong moment. Focus your thoughts on your best sexual experiences, and extract some confidence from those memories.
Next, engage in some activities that relieve your anxiety. Take a long, hot shower to put some space between you and your stressful workday. Moving your body can help, too, whether it’s a walk outside where you can enjoy nature or yoga where you can stretch out. Becoming grounded in your body is an ideal first step to having more connected sex, which can do wonders for your ability to get hard.
Lastly, do something that makes you feel sexy. People with penises need and deserve to feel sexy every bit as people with vaginas. Put on an outfit that makes you feel sexy, play a specific song, or celebrate a work success by sharing it with your partner. You could get a haircut and a shave before your next date. Do whatever it takes to make you feel your sexiest, and your erection will often benefit from the small acts of self-care.
Take It All Off (the Table)
Rather than focusing primarily on your erection, have a night where you don’t focus on penetrative sex. You could have an evening where it’s all about your partner’s pleasure, and you go down on them with no chance of reciprocation. You could try pegging—especially if you never have before. No matter what you do, the goal is to have a positive experience that isn’t connected to your erection to build up your positive sexual memories and practice separating yourself from your sexual stressors.
If you’re concerned about your erections, working with a specialized therapist is often the most effective way to remove psychological barriers to more sexual fulfillment. Contact me today for a free consultation.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist.