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Erectile dysfunction is a common issue among men. According to 2019 estimation, one-third of the total men population struggles with either physical or psychological erectile dysfunction (ED).
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of stress-induced ED cases has increased exponentially. Nowadays, the majority of men who are below 50 and even a considerable number of older men experience ED caused by anxiety and stress. But the good news is that psychological ED can be successfully treated with proper care and attention. If your mental health is affecting different physical aspects of your life, health2delivery is an online platform where you can have access to mental health practitioners 24/7. You can book an appointment, get a consultation, find related information, and connect with individuals who have similar struggles from the comfort of your home.
According to studies, ED is primarily due to poor mental health. Many psychological factors, including social, professional, environmental, emotional, and personal characteristics, can cause ED.
Does stress cause erectile dysfunction?
The short answer is yes. Men of all ages may struggle with ED due to some form of stress, whether it’s social, professional, or personal.
Prolonged stress and unattended mental health disrupt your brain-to-body coordination. In the case of an erection, stress and anxiety can interfere with the way your brain sends signals to your body to increase blood flow in the penis.
According to a recent survey conducted by Harvard Medical School,
- Men under the age of 30 experience erectile dysfunction mostly due to anxiety and nervousness. This type of psychological ED is, however, temporary.
- For men above 30 years, the stress that may cause ED is usually due to their professional life or personal reasons.
- Erectile dysfunction in older males (above 50) is generally an aging symptom. However, anxiety and distress caused by life events, such as losing a loved one, retirement, loneliness, and health problems, may lead to erectile dysfunction.
This means that stress is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction. Your mind controls your body and all of its functions. So what affects your brain affects your body.
When it comes to achieving an erection, many areas of your body work simultaneously, including your brain, nerves, hormones, muscles, blood vessels, and emotions. Your brain communicates with all the other parts via neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are very sensitive to stress in your body. High-stress levels can alter the concentration of neurotransmitters, which in turn distorts the message. This may lead to increased production of cortisol (primary stress hormone) or lower testosterone levels (reduced sex drive).
Additionally, stress and anxiety can also affect your physical health and increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction due to physical health conditions. Some of the physical illnesses that cause erectile dysfunction include:
- Diabetes (high sugar levels)
- Heart problems
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- Prostate cancer
- Neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Low testosterone levels
Furthermore, increased stress levels can also worsen your ongoing ED symptoms. This traps you in a vicious cycle in which your stress just doubles over, causing severe damage to your overall health.
Struggling with ED can also induce adverse changes in your behavior and lifestyle, including:
- Excessive smoking
- Drug abuse
- Alcohol abuse
- Stagnant lifestyle
- Poor self-esteem
Such negative habits are one of the most significant contributors to depression, anxiety, and stress. More stress means more severe ED symptoms, which in turn causes even more stress. Unless you get professional help from a certified health practitioner, the cycle continues.
How to relieve stress to treat erectile dysfunction?
Psychological ED is treatable. Your doctor can provide you with the necessary treatment and support to relieve your stress and anxiety.
However, it’s essential to consult a doctor as early as possible. The sooner you get help, the quicker you’ll recover from ED. Erectile dysfunction can also be one of the early symptoms of some chronic illnesses, including nerve damage, cardiac disease, and prostate cancer. This is why you shouldn’t delay your ED symptoms unnecessarily.
Some of the methods used to ease stress and treat psychological ED are as follows:
With the help of therapy, psychologists can help you manage your stress, which ultimately helps you with your stressed-induced ED.
Many different forms of therapy can be given to treat physiological ED. First, your doctor analyses your mental health to find out the root of your stress. This helps them determine the most effective type of therapy for your condition. It can be one or a combination of two or more from the following:
- Sex therapy: This type of therapy focuses on promoting a pleasurable, safe, and reliable sex life to alleviate stress.
- Psychodynamic therapy: The therapy is conducted to find out the main reason for your ED by addressing subconscious issues, such as PTSD.
- Counseling: This is the most common method to approach your stress factors and learn to overcome them in your life effectively.
- Calming techniques
Your doctor may also suggest you practice relaxing techniques to relieve your stress and anxiety. These techniques include meditation, stretching, yoga, breathing exercises, and acupuncture. Many studies have shown that doing any form of meditation improves brain function and alleviates stress.
- Supplements and herbs
There are many supplements available that can help you with your stress and ED altogether. Similarly, certain herbs, such as ginseng and chamomile, are known for their soothing properties. Usually, these herbs are consumed as a tea. However, always consult your doctor before taking any supplement or trying a natural remedy.