Dear Miss Meghan,
I was hooking up with someone last weekend and I couldn’t perform. This is not the first time this has happened. Do I need to see a doctor or get Viagra?
-Down and Out
Dear Down and Out,
Erectile Dysfunction, especially in folks under the age of 60 who do not have a pre-existing medical condition, is typically a psychological issue. In laymen’s terms, it may be performance anxiety. One lost erection, whether due to alcohol, lack of sleep, stress, feeling dejected, or a lack of desire, can trigger a fear of it happening again.
If this fear takes root in your brain the next time you try to get aroused, then your focus is the fear, not the pleasure and aroused feelings that typically trigger an erection. Once this cycle starts, it can be difficult to break. Taking a pill can actually help perpetuate this cycle as well.
Plenty of folks lose or can’t get an erection at times and it is VERY NORMAL. Both men and women struggle with arousal at times and it is important to listen to your body.
If a penis is not erect or a vagina is not swelling or lubricating, it may be your body telling you that having sex right now isn’t the best idea. If you try to force arousal, either by taking Viagra, using a pump, or over stimulating the area, you can cause trauma to the genitals which can make the next encounter even less enjoyable, and in some cases painful.
I know we live in a highly masculine society that pokes (ha, pokes) fun at men who can’t “perform” and perpetuates the stereotype that you are “less of a man” if not at full attention when the time comes and it can be difficult to acknowledge out loud a problem regarding one’s “manhood.” That we even refer to the penis as the place of ones “manhood” keeps the stereotype going.
We also have a medicalization of sexuality, which gives the impression that sexual performance can be fixed by taking a little blue pill.
If you are have difficulty, you absolutely should talk to your doctor and get a full assessment of any physical issues that may be contributing. Sadly, however, doctors frequently don’t assess about any mental or emotional issues playing into arousal and just write a script for Viagra.
This does not address the underlying issues and can create long-term health issues with circulation and blood flow. This is also true for folks who take it for recreational purposes who want a longer lasting erection. When it comes time when you actually need a pill to help get an erection, it might not work. Plus, there are risks associated with taking it that you need to be aware of.
I suggest going to talk to a therapist. You MAY have a sex therapist who works on this campus in the counseling center (oohhh, I wonder who? Hint: her name starts with Me) who can assess for, and help with, any mental barriers that may have developed.
It can be a difficult thing to talk about with friends or family so talking to a therapist along with a doctor is a great idea, prior to or while taking a supplement.
Sincerely tooting my own horn in the last paragraph,