Stress, anxiety and ED
If you’re wondering whether stress can cause erectile dysfunction, the answer is yes. Stress can be distracting; it’s hard for your body (and mind) to be in the mood for sex if you’re worried about work or another issue.
Anxiety and erectile dysfunction are also linked: being anxious can make it more difficult to get an erection, and erection difficulties can make you more anxious. The good news is that treating the underlying cause of the stress and anxiety in your life should also treat your ED.
What is performance anxiety?
Performance anxiety happens when worries about your ability to do something are so powerful, they impact your life.
When it comes to sex, performance anxiety usually means worries about your body (including penis size) or about your ability to please a partner. So try talking to your partner about your worries. By addressing the problem head on, you should feel less anxious about performing.
Depression and erectile dysfunction
Depression is a common cause of psychological ED. Oftentimes, people who are depressed feel like they’re always too tired, lose interest in things they used to enjoy and notice a dip in their sex drive. Depression can keep you from being “in the moment,” impact your self-esteem or body image and add stress to your relationship. All of these things can contribute to ED.
If the depression is acute (a response to something specific that happened), it’s possible that your erectile dysfunction will resolve itself once time has passed. If the depression is chronic, however, you could keep experiencing ED indefinitely if you don’t seek treatment. In either case, it’s important to get help for your depression. That, in turn, can help treat erectile dysfunction.
Can antidepressants cause erectile dysfunction?
Unfortunately, some antidepressants can cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual issues, like making it really difficult to orgasm or burning your sex drive to the ground. These are not side effects you should live with, and you should talk to your prescriber if you experience any of them. They might be temporary and go away on their own as your body gets used to the medication but if they don’t, it might be time to adjust the dose or find a different antidepressant.
ED and relationship problems
When you’re having problems in your relationship, this can lead to problems in the bedroom. Which can then make the relationship even worse. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you think your erectile dysfunction is the result of a problem in your relationship, it’s important to figure out why. Is something that your partner is doing making you feel uncomfortable, or lowering your self esteem? Or is there a negative past experience that you’re bringing to your current relationship, like insecurity or body image issues?
Talk to your partner about what’s bothering you. It’s possible that reassurance from them will help you feel more ‘in the moment’ during sex or remove any pressure you’re feeling about needing an erection to please your partner. On the flip side, couples therapy is an option if you think relationship problems are the cause of your ED but you want some help with opening up communication between you and your partner.
Can too much pornography cause ED?
Can porn cause erectile dysfunction? Possibly. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is a recently identified condition but it’s not fully understood how it works. Theories about porn-induced ED focus on how porn can change how a person perceives sex in real life, from overexposure to “unrealistic” bodies and reactions to porn’s impact on dopamine levels.
If you watch a lot of pornography and experience erectile dysfunction, or if you find yourself often choosing porn over sex with your partner, it might be time to take a break.
Does masturbation cause ED?
“Masturbation-induced ED” is a bit of a misnomer. The physical act of masturbation can’t directly cause erectile dysfunction, although you’ll experience a refractory period after orgasming during which you won’t be able to get another erection. However, erectile dysfunction and masturbation do have some links. For example, watching a lot of pornography might change the way you think about sex with your partner and make it more difficult to become physically aroused.
It’s also possible to get used to masturbating in a specific way, whether by using a specific type of visual stimulation or a technique (like a really firm grip) that doesn’t translate well to partnered sex.
Some men choose to masturbate a few hours before sex to help them last longer, but this could ultimately make it more difficult to orgasm depending on how long their refractory period is.
Can too much sex cause erectile dysfunction?
Not directly. In fact, more sex is likely to improve your confidence and reduce the risk of performance anxiety. After sex, however, you’ll experience something called a “refractory period,” which is a short time during which it’s difficult or impossible to become physically aroused. This is perfectly normal and isn’t the same thing as erectile dysfunction.