My friend told me that he has complete erectile dysfunction, and feels as though his sex life is over. Is there something that he can do?
Erectile dysfunction is a condition where a penis cannot get or maintain a hard enough erection for penetration. Due in part to cultural messages that suggest that sex equals penetration, many people and their partners feel that their sex life is over if they begin to experience erectile difficulties or dysfunction.
There are “things he can do,” but it’s wise to back up and ask, “Is there anything he wants to do?” Does the man want to change something for himself, or for his partners? Can he talk to his partner(s) about sex? What does sex mean to him? What it means to him to have “lost sex”?
Sex is intimate contact with oneself and/or between consenting adults. Penetration is one act of intimate contact, and many forms of mutual pleasuring (masturbation being one of them) are available to him that do not involve an erect penis. Sex does not have to stop, and intimate sexual contact can be re-initiated with some forethought and preparation, and less focus on penetration as the most desirable or only sex act available to him and his partner(s).
But what if penetration is really important to him?
If your friend wants to investigate his erectile difficulties, he needs more information. Is the cause medical? Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), high blood pressure, and diabetes are common diseases in the United States that can have a strong impact on the ability for a man’s penis to become erect. There are medical and surgical treatments for these conditions that can be prescribed by a health care practitioner. Non-pharmacological solutions involve instruction in the use of cock rings or penile vacuum pumps; erection rings work by keeping blood in the penis, while vacuum devices draw blood into the penis using suction. While some might want erections to happen “naturally,” few people will turn down the opportunity to have a fabulous pleasure opportunity with a fun suction device. For some couples, non-drug devices can mean the difference between having “sex” and not.
Sometimes, erectile difficulties do not have a direct medical cause. Is the hard erection of a man’s early life the only “erection” he thinks is real? For these people, understanding changes in the body as we age can make a huge difference in their confidence and erections. Some people or their partners need extra stimulation with hands or vibrators to maintain their arousal/erections. Accepting the challenge rather than quitting can mean hours of pleasurable play with fluctuating erections. Opening up to new possibilities can make changes happen all through our (sex) lives.