The Mayo Clinic defines erectile dysfunction (ED) (also known as impotence) as the inability to get and maintain an erection that is firm enough and for enough time to satisfactorily engage in sexual intercourse.
For most men, just the thought of ever being impotent (even if said jokingly) is frightening. Many grow up with the societal pressures of “being a man” and seeing how everyone around them links masculinity to sexual activity. The truth is that many men (and biologically male individuals who do not identify as male) struggle with erectile dysfunction at one point in their lives — whether they are young or old, or in a relationship or single.
But, even though a large percentage of the population struggles with ED, not many of us know that much about it. So, today we’re going to explore some of the most commonly believed myths about ED and the truth of what ED really is.
The Five Most Common Myths About Erectile Dysfunction
1. It Only Affects Older People
While erectile dysfunction may be more common in older individuals, it is still more common than people think in younger individuals as well. Whether you are 20 or 80, you can be affected by erectile dysfunction.
2. It Means that You Can Never Get an Erection
Not everyone with ED is affected in the same way. Some individuals may be able to get an erection but not be able to maintain it long enough to have satisfying sex. Or they may be able to get an erection, but not one that is hard enough for engaging in penetrative sex.
The definition of erectile dysfunction is simply not the same for everyone, and at the end of the day, all it truly denotes is the inability to get and maintain an erection that is satisfying enough for their sexual desires.
3. It Is All in Your Head (or the Other Head)
This myth suggests that the reason for your ED is only mental. While in rare cases, this may be the case, and you could have an exclusively mental block preventing you from performing sexually, more often than not, ED is a result of the combination of mental and physical factors.
The flip side of this myth is the exact opposite; it suggests that ED means that there is only something wrong with the penis that prevents you from performing sexually. Unfortunately, even this is inaccurate. More often than not, ED can be a side effect of an underlying health concern — such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, or clinical depression.
4. All Drugs and Treatments for It Are the Same
There are a number of different methods — including a variety of medications — that can be used to help treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The options you may immediately think of (like Viagra or Cialis) are similar to one another in the sense that they come from the same class of drugs. But, even so, they don’t work exactly the same, and to get the best effect from each, you need to follow the specific guidelines for that particular drug.
There are also treatment options that are not within this class that affect the body completely differently. The type of treatment you need for ED will depend on the way that you are affected by the condition.
5. It Is a Problem that You Have to Fix on Your Own
In our society, most men (as well as individuals who grew up biologically male and those who identify as male) grow up hearing things like “Take it like a man,” “Boys don’t cry,” or “Man up.” Now, first, these phrases are incredibly harmful to young children as they grow up feeling like they can’t show emotions or ask for help. And secondly, it is phrases like this that give many people who grew up biologically male a preconceived notion that they have to fix everything “wrong” with them (or even the people around them) on their own.
This is simply not true. And more often than not, trying to “fix” everything on your own only leads to more challenges and stress down the line.
The Truth About Erectile Dysfunction
Now that we’ve explored some of the myths about erectile dysfunction, you may be wondering what is actually true about it. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is extremely common, and it can manifest in many different ways.
This brings us to one point that we really want to stress here:
Being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction of any kind does not make someone any less of a man. Nor does being diagnosed with ED make an individual with biologically male genitalia who does not identify as a man any less worthy of (or capable of providing) love and connection in a relationship.
In other words, your value as a man and/or as a human being does not come from whether or not you are able to maintain an erection. And you are no less deserving of a relationship or the ability to identify as a man simply because you are unable to get “as hard as you should.” There is no standard when it comes to sexual intimacy or sexual activity. The “standards” set by the media or pornography industry that many people strive for today are incredibly misleading and not representative of reality. No one should ever feel pressured to perform sexual activities at a level set by societal beliefs, media displays, or other systematically reinforced expectations.
Each couple will define what sexual intimacy means for them, and if one (or both) partners feel that their sexual needs are not being met how they would like in the relationship, then that is the time to seek a solution together. Remember, managing and seeking treatment for ED is not the responsibility of only the person who is unable to maintain an erection.
A relationship is a partnership. It is the duty of both parties to communicate, support, and help each other when there is a challenge. And truthfully, the best way to do this is as a team.
So, if you and your partner are looking for solutions for erectile dysfunction in your relationship, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.