You and your boyfriend are kissing and undressing each other and you think you’re going to have sex. But then your friskiness flops—literally. You look at his penis and it’s flaccid. WTF? He’s experiencing a case of erectile dysfunction (ED) and here’s what you need to know about it.
It’s scarily common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 52 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction.
It’s not something that only happens to old guys. ED happens to all men at some point in their lives. In fact, research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that one in four men seek help for erectile dysfunction when they’re younger than 40. For some guys, ED happens once or a few times, but doesn’t interfere with their sexual pleasure. But, when ED is more frequent, it needs to be checked out and treated.
There are two types of erectile dysfunction. The first is primary. This is when men have never had erections that enabled pleasurable sex. This is a really rare kind of erectile dysfunction, though, and tends to be a result of psychological conditions, such as extreme anxiety or fear of intimacy.
Then there’s secondary erectile dysfunction. This is when men lose their erectile function over time in a gradual way. They tend to be able to have sex about 25 percent of the time. The good news is that it’s easier to treat this type of ED.
Erectile dysfunction can be tied to other sexual problems. For instance, when the guy comes too soon, has delayed ejaculation, or just can’t seem to reach orgasm no matter how much he’s stimulated.
Erectile dysfunction is sometimes linked to health conditions. A common condition is heart disease. Up to 30 percent of men who see their doctor about their ED turn out to have heart disease. Other health conditions that have been linked to ED include diabetes, clogged arteries, and periodontal disease—WTF? Yup, this dental disease is thought to be associated with vascular disease, which is the narrowing of blood vessels. Medication side-effects could also inhibit a man’s erections, as can psychological issues. Finally, age-related conditions can also be the culprit for ED, such as when tissues become less elastic or nerve function declines. Clearly, there’s a lot that can cause ED!
Performance anxiety can make it worse. If there’s no physical reason why a man’s erection just isn’t happening the way it should, a previous experience of erectile dysfunction can be the culprit. Going through the embarrassment of not being able to get it up can make a guy get freaked out that it’s going to happen again. Over time, this can dent a guy’s confidence. Psychological issues are often the reason for ED in younger men.
His lifestyle matters. If your boyfriend smokes, he’s likely to have a greater chance of experiencing erectile dysfunction. Research published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that 41 percent of men with ED under the age of 40 smoked. Drinking a lot of alcohol can also zap erections – whiskey d*ck is a real thing! Moderate drinking (that’s two drinks max for men daily) is fine, but if a man drinks too much his liver can’t break down all that alcohol, so toxins build up and affect organs in the body, including those used for sex.
Erectile dysfunction can be treated. There are many types of treatment. These include medication, such as Viagra, that are used before sex. Penis injections or vacuum pumps are sometimes used to improve blood flow to the penis so that erections can occur. Therapy, in which the guy suffering from ED unpacks his emotional issues and stress with a psychologist, can be beneficial. If treatments don’t work, there’s the option of surgery to boost blood flow.
Weirdly, sex can prevent it. A study published in The American Journal of Medicine discovered that men who didn’t have sex for a week or more at a time were twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than men who had sex at least once a week. The reason for this is that when the penis isn’t active, its structure can change! Yikes. Penile tissue becomes less flexible, so it becomes more difficult for men maintain their erections.
Morning erections are a good sign. Men who experienced less than one morning erection in a week had three times more risk of ED than men who had two or three morning erections every week, the same research found. This is because nocturnal erections happen when men sleep and they’re a sign of a healthy functioning penis.
Erectile dysfunction can mess with your head. Your boyfriend might be experiencing erectile dysfunction, but you’re feeling the stress of it too. Chances are you might even be blaming yourself. A survey by Superdrug of 1,000 men and 1,000 women in the UK found that 42 percent of women think they’re to blame for their partner’s erectile dysfunction, while 19 percent feel that it’s a sign their partner doesn’t find them attractive anymore. Don’t even entertain these thoughts! As you can see from the points above, ED is complicated AF. It’s tied to various health and psychological issues, so it’s really not something you should be taking personally. Rather be there to support your BF and talk about it with him. ED isn’t anything to feel ashamed about. The sooner he gets it treated, the better you’ll both feel – and the sooner your steamy bedroom session can start.
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