Intimacy Issues: Understanding Erectile Dysfunction
Intimacy Issues Volume One: Chapter 3
Understanding Erectile Dysfunction: The Effects of Age and Health-Related Behaviors
There is a self-perpetuating conundrum among men known as erectile dysfunction (ED). It is rarely discussed in public, yet grappled with more than most who suffer from it would like to admit. Frequently when asked “how are you” — a guy struggling with problems in bed might mumble “oh .. well … you know — I had a bad night.” Often times this ambiguous answer indicates that a potentially exhilarating sexual episode was dampened or even shut down by the inability to develop or maintain an erection during sexual activity. In a recent posting, The University of Wisconsin Health Men’s Program reports that a man’s age is a direct correlation to what percentage of his peers are experiencing ED — 30% of men in their 30s, 40% of men in their 40s, 50% of men in their 50s and so on.
A Complicated Intimacy Issue
Age notwithstanding, there are a variety of other circumstances that can also lead to erectile dysfunction, some are minor and easy to identify and others are more involved. These include stress, lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, bad diet, frustration with work, lack of exercise, relationship struggles as well as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and more. One of the perpetuating factors of the problem is this: when a man “has a bad night,” the experience can be profoundly paralyzing from a psychological standpoint. So much in fact, that the next time a situation turns intimate, the memory of his previous failure to participate in sex can cause such a flood of anxiety that the dreaded scenario happens all over again. Poor communication between partners can lead to the woman mistaking the man’s trouble as an indication that he does not find her attractive and the spiral goes from there. Chronic ED can stem from an isolated incident such as this, but more often it is caused by a more complex physical condition and sometimes the two are intertwined.
Cortisol and Occasional ED
An isolated incident that threatens to morph into a mental hang up needs to be addressed right away. In this instance, one or more behavioral choices are interfering with your enjoyment of sex. Stress, anxiety, depression, eating too much junk food and sleep deprivation all have one thing in common: they increase your body’s secretion of cortisol. This catabolic hormone helps the body deal with stress, yet lifestyle factors that push cortisol production to high levels actually detract from your body’s production of testosterone. The results are low energy, weight gain, poor attitude, lousy self opinion and bad nights in bed.
Make an Objective Assessment
You must make an honest account of your habits in order to decide if a compromised sex life and a strained relationship are worth whatever is triggering your elevated cortisol. Make a decision to take time off, to address a habit of chronic worrying, to see a therapist about personal issues, to eat organic foods and/or to develop better sleeping patterns. Offering an explanation to your partner along with plenty of reassurance that you are still crazy about them is probably a good idea as well. It takes a lot of guts for a man to admit that he is not the walking pillar of hormonal virility he was at 18, and that just maybe his biology is reacting to the stress of adult life in a less than ideal way. An understanding partner will respect your honesty and courage, and the whole episode might just turn into an opportunity for the two of you to become closer.
Instead of busting your back for that raise, pursuing too many hobbies in order to keep up with the rest of the guys or freaking out about things you can’t control — try learning to relax. Relaxation is a proven way to quickly even out cortisol levels. While you’re doing so, consider opening up and asking your partner to share some leisure time with you. Intimacy issues in a relationship can cause a rift, yet this distance can be repaired with some thoughtful quality time. A quiet evening enhanced by a sexy bottle of wine can set the stage for some lighthearted getting-to-know-each-other-again fun. If the two of you enjoy reading, you can do so together by perusing the pages of an adult book dedicated to cultivating lust ever after. A flirtatious game for couples can also help set the mood for intimacy, or you can turn up the heat with a game that includes some stimulating and suggestive scenarios based on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
ED as a Result of Chronic Conditions
ED can also manifest as a secondary effect of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease and other serious ailments. Prescription pills, topical lotions and injections designed to boost testosterone may be a quick fix, but they only treat the symptom and may have side effects that exacerbate your primary problem. Also, these short-term solutions can backfire by sending false signals to the hypothalamus gland in your brain. This is the neurological center that triggers testosterone production. When testosterone is artificially introduced into your system, your brain gets fooled into thinking it no longer needs to produce this essential hormone. If the artificial source is ever interrupted, the results can be even lower testosterone levels than before. This has far-reaching effects such as losses in muscle mass, bone density, red blood-cell count and general cognition. If you are struggling with a testosterone deficiency due to a chronic condition, you can explore ways of naturally boosting your “T” levels as long as they are permitted by your doctor. You may also have to address your sex life by considering alternate avenues of sexual intimacy for the sake of your partner’s fulfillment and for the health of your relationship.
Dietary Alternatives for Boosting Testosterone
Two separate studies recently published by PubMed.gov link low testosterone to deficiency in vitamin D and zinc, suggesting that a diet abundant with these vitamins can be beneficial for low T levels. If anything, you can use this as an opportunity to make dinnertime a lot more exciting by trying some new foods. You can also augment your diet with some time outside in the sunshine (your body can make its own vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight). Meanwhile, replacing sugar with healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados and olive oil can help your body increase testosterone levels. Make sure you are cleared for any dietary changes ahead of time by consulting with your primary physician.
Work it Out
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another proven way to boost T levels. This is a flourishing field of exercise involving seven to 10 sets of vigorous maximum exercise for 30 seconds (running, swimming, elliptical, etc …) followed by 90 seconds of active recovery (pacing back and forth or jogging in place.) This can be done in conjunction with strength training using machines, free weights or bodyweight exercises — also proven methods of naturally increasing testosterone production. Remember to check with your doctor before engaging in any sort of strenuous activity.
Creative Options for Pleasing Your Partner
Once you are taking better care of yourself, you can explore that peace of mind by reaching out to your partner — even if you are still experiencing ED due to low T levels. Although intercourse may not be an option, you can participate in her pleasure by introducing some exciting adult accessories into the bedroom. Intimate toys such as vibrating wands, soft buzzing bullets and discreet multi-speed stimulators can allow her to cherish that special realm of physical joy that is exceptional because the man she loves took her there. Consider yourself her guide through an evening of ecstasy, and since you’ll be doing all of the pleasing you can even spark new modes of excitement with some playful restraints and gold chain body jewelry. You can even set the mood by opening a bottle of sexy wine with a name Oh! Orgasmic Tempranillo or Happy Bitch Rose that tells her that it’s ok, that you planned this out and that you are invested in her happiness regardless of what you’re going through.
Vibe Wines™ provides practical information for dealing with intimacy issues such as erectile dysfunction, while specializing in Sexy Pairings™ — unique gift sets that include wine and adult pleasure products.