Can Stress Cause ED?: Everything You Need To Know

Introduction

Stress is the body’s response to any change in the environment, which is abruptly new to an individual. Stress has helped humans evolve from hunter-gatherers to present-day humans. This mental reaction has two aspects viz. positive or good stress and negative or bad stress. Good stress is a great way to achieve more and be more efficient at the things you do. Bad stress on the other hand, negatively impacts the psychology and physiology of an individual. 

Both kinds of stress can have their causes which differ from one person to another. Some common causes of stress include job loss, confrontations, job-related stress, parenthood, illness, financial issues, etc.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), on the other hand, is a problem faced by men wherein they face difficulty in generating or maintaining an erection. ED is caused due to several factors, and stress happens to be just one of them. There is research backing the fact that ED may be due to the side effects of certain drugs and other physical indications. However, it has also been proven that a significant chunk of ED cases are psychologically induced, with stress being the most common cause. 

Continue reading to learn more about the link between stress and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Stress and ED – The link

For a long time, our mental health has been known to dominate our physical health. A positive mental state will induce the body to produce more of ‘good hormones’ like oxytocin, dopamine, testosterone, etc. Meanwhile, a negative state of mind will increase the levels of cortisol – a stress hormone. 

Increased cortisol levels can have adverse effects on various organ functions, with cardiovascular and reproductive health being the most vulnerable. High cortisol levels over time impact the functioning of testicles, resulting in low testosterone, which is one of the many factors responsible for ED. 

  • Performance Anxiety – One of the most common causes of ED is performance anxiety before indulging in sex. When you are anxious or stressed about your sexual performance, your brain may divert your attention from the matter at hand and divert blood flow to other parts of the body, resulting in ED. Impotence due to performance anxiety is mostly experienced by teenage men and men in their early to mid-20s. 

 

Such ED is purely psychological and generally fades away as time passes. Medication may not be the only treatment method; honest and open communication with your partner about your issues would be of help too.

 

  • Personal and Professional Stress – When it comes to middle-aged men, there is a lot to balance viz. relationship or marriage, career, finances, or maybe even children. All of these could prove to be a major cause leading to increased cortisol levels, which implies high stress. High stress can result in weak erections or even impotence. Consequently, stress is the most common cause of ED in middle-aged men.

 

  • Pornography Addiction – Yes, you read that right. Pornography addiction can lead to psychogenic erectile dysfunction.

 

Now, what is a psychogenic erection?

 

A psychogenic erection in simple terms is an erection caused by a picture, a mental image, or any visual or mental means that would turn on a man. Excessive pornography consumption has been linked to lower emotional quotient regarding sex in real life. 

 

Simply put, you may face an erection issue when having sex with your partner if you watch too much porn. You must realize that porn is superficial and it is portrayed very differently than what sex is.

 

  • Depression – It is one of those psychological problems that are rarely talked about. Depression is much more than ‘just a bad mood’ or ‘sadness.’ It is something that can make even the most mundane tasks difficult. It acts like a burden, which can weigh you down quite badly. 

 

Depression is characterized by symptoms like anxiety attacks, frustration, anger, irritability, and sadness. Enjoying joyful gatherings, places, and experiences is something that a depressed individual fails to be an integral part of. Sex is no exception to depression and one might experience erectile issues if he is depressed.

 

  • Illnesses – An individual is affected not only physically, but also mentally because of an illness. Chronic illnesses could impact mental functioning and result in issues like difficulty in concentration and the rise of negative emotions. An illness could hence induce stress in an individual which in turn, could lead to a less pleasurable sexual experience or even erectile dysfunction.  

 

Treatment

Stress-induced impotence tends to heal with time. Although if you face difficulties coping with stress and anxiety, you can always seek professional help which in this case, would be a therapist. Forms of therapy would include –

  • Counseling with a therapist who would help you identify the issues that are causing impotence. He or she would then provide guidance and address your problem in case of mild issues like stress and anxiety. The therapist may also prescribe medication as needed.
  • Psychodynamic therapy may be used in case you have a conflict in your mind which needs resolution. In this type of counseling, your therapist shall help you resolve your subconscious issues, which may be leading to stress and consequently to impotence.

 

  • Couples counseling is something you might want to consider if you have performance anxiety. The therapist can help break down the wall between you and your partner which would not only improve communication, but also help each of you to discover the things that suit your sexual desires, and the things that arouse you both individually.

 

This reduces ED symptoms and also improves your relationship in all spheres and not only sexually.

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction is not only caused due to physical disturbances but can be caused by psychological issues like stress. Although impotence induced by stress is not chronic, consider getting an appointment with the doctor if things start to affect both your daily life and sex life. 

Stress is only an ailment if you let it be. Try coping with stress in a proper manner rather than resorting to substance or alcohol abuse. A good way to solving issues would be communicating with your partner and also trying to keep stress at bay through things like exercise and meditation.