The Independent Pharmacy

Is Your Mental Health Causing Your Erectile Dysfunction

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

Reviewed on 22 Feb 2024

Anxiety and erectile dysfunction are often linked. Men’s bedroom problems may be caused by feelings of constant anxiety or being pressured. In cases of mental health problems such as high stress or anxiety, blood flow to the penis is diminished in ways that are antagonistic to powerful erections.

In situations where we become too anxious, hormones and chemicals produced internally can cause constriction of blood vessels. This makes it difficult to get a firm erection or maintain it during sexual intercourse.

However, there is reason to remain optimistic. Compassionate medical and mental health care can help to address anxiety-related erection problems. When men work under an understanding doctor or counsellor, options are available at their disposal for relieving anxiety, improving symptoms and restoring intimacy. Stress management by making some lifestyle adjustments along with medical intervention improves the flow of blood to restore confidence again.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how your mental health impacts erectile dysfunction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Anxiety disorders and ongoing stress can spur hormone changes restricting blood vessels that prevent sufficient blood flow for reliable erections during sexual activity.
  • Medical interventions like PDE5 inhibitors, including Viagra (sildenafil) or Cialis (tadalafil), counselling approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation training, lifestyle habits, and holistic wellness practices can improve erectile function when mental health issues play a role.
  • Pinpointing and professionally caring for anxiety triggers through methods like talk therapy, stress reduction tactics, physical activity, or medications when warranted allows managing worries, fears, and nervous tension that interfere with sexual health.
  • Getting properly assessed by compassionate medical teams helps tailor personalised solutions so men can overcome anxiety-induced erectile dysfunction and restore satisfying intimacy and performance.

Does Anxiety Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Anxiety can definitely lead to problems like trouble getting erections. When you feel really stressed out, worried, or scared, your body releases hormones and chemicals that make it hard for your penis to work right.

Erectile dysfunction can happen because of both physical and emotional reasons. For some men, their penis and blood vessels don’t work properly due to health issues like heart disease or diabetes. For others, emotions and mental health issues like anxiety disorders are the root cause of erectile dysfunction.

Feelings of stress and nervousness trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. This reaction was useful for our ancestors to either stay and fight threats or run away to avoid danger. But nowadays, this reaction can cause your blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow to the penis. When this occurs, you may struggle with getting and keeping a firm erection.

Anxiety and fear also affect the brain’s ability to send and receive the proper signals for an erection to occur. If the brain cannot communicate correctly with nerves and blood vessels in the penis due to high anxiety levels, achieving an erection becomes extremely difficult.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Recognising the Symptoms of Anxiety-Induced ED

If anxiety or stress is causing erectile dysfunction, you might notice these signs:

  • Problems getting an erection before sex
  • Not being able to keep an erection long enough for sex
  • Going soft during sexual intercourse
  • Worrying about sexual performance
  • Feeling stressed out or nervous during sex

You may also have physical symptoms like:

  • An increased heartbeat
  • Sweating or shaking
  • Tension in muscles
  • Trouble sleeping

How Is Anxiety-Related ED Diagnosed?

If you think anxiety is leading to erectile issues, it’s important to talk openly with your doctor. They will ask questions about your symptoms, medical history, diseases you have, and medications you take.

Your doctor may also:

  • Do a physical exam to check your penis and testicles
  • Run blood tests to check for underlying conditions
  • Refer you to a mental health expert for evaluation

Being honest about your feelings of anxiety and stress can help the doctors figure out if these are causing your erection issues. This allows them to come up with the best treatment plan for you.

How Do I Stop Erectile Dysfunction From Anxiety?

Medical Treatments for ED

Many men find their erection strength and sexual functioning improve through medications that enhance blood flow to the penis. Common medical treatment options include:

These medical treatments work by increasing blood flow so you can get and keep a firmer erection. They can be effective when anxiety is a factor behind ED.

Managing Anxiety to Improve Sexual Health

Learning to control anxious thoughts and high stress levels through counselling and lifestyle changes is important for improving sexual issues like erectile dysfunction. Steps you can take include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of counselling that helps you recognise and change negative thoughts that contribute to your fears and anxiety about sexual performance.
  • Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing help your body to relax, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate, improving sexual function.
  • Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol intake, and quitting smoking are all lifestyle habits that can assist with anxiety management. This promotes overall well-being, including sexual health.
  • Joining anxiety or ED support groups can also help individuals cope with emotions and reduce isolation around sexual dysfunctions.

Learning to manage stress and control anxiety can benefit your overall well-being, including your sexual health. This can reduce instances of erectile dysfunction.

Combining medical treatments with anxiety management tools is often the most effective way to stop ED caused by stress, depression or worry.

The Psychological Impact and Coping Strategies

Understanding the Emotional Consequences

Dealing with erectile dysfunction can understandably impact your self-esteem and emotions. It’s completely normal to feel a range of emotions, including embarrassment or inadequacy, but remember that this medical condition is both common and treatable, and it doesn’t define your worth or masculinity.

These feelings can worsen if anxiety is causing your ED. You may beat yourself up mentally or feel additional stress over your inability to control the anxiety interfering with sexual functioning.

However, it’s important to realise ED is very common, affecting tens of millions of men. It is also highly treatable in most people, especially when anxiety plays a role. Avoid blaming yourself or feeling alone in dealing with it.

Tips for Coping

Some strategies that can help you cope mentally and emotionally when experiencing anxiety-related ED include:

  • Remember, anxiety is often a factor causing ED. Work on identifying and expressing your feelings of stress or nervousness.
  • Be patient with the treatment process – it may take some time to determine effective solutions for your situation.
  • Communicate openly with your partner, explaining how anxiety interferes with sexual functioning and that you are seeking help.
  • Consider joining ED online support communities to share experiences and advice.

The key is addressing the anxiety problems contributing to ED through counselling and healthy lifestyle changes. This can help restore emotional well-being and confidence in sexual satisfaction.

Preventive Measures and Lifestyle Changes

Making positive lifestyle changes can help prevent or reduce instances of erectile dysfunction related to anxiety and stress.

Preventing Anxiety-Induced ED

Seeing a mental health professional for counselling before symptoms of erectile dysfunction arise is recommended to:

  • Learn techniques like cognitive therapy and relaxation training for controlling worried thoughts and nervous tension.
  • Process stressful life events or trauma contributing to chronic anxiety interfering with sexual functioning.
  • Start medications if needed to stabilise mood and manage symptoms.

Having an outlet for expressing anxieties allows coping before they significantly impact sexual health.

Holistic Approaches to Sexual Health

  • Exercising helps the body better handle stress hormones. Aerobic exercise boosts blood and oxygen circulation for improved sexual response.
  • Getting enough sleep gives the body time to recharge and recover from daily anxiety triggers. Adequate restful sleep supports sexual desire and performance.
  • Drinking less alcohol helps, as too much can make it hard to get an erection, affect your sexual response, and make it harder to control your emotions.
  • Quitting smoking improves blood flow, which is essential for firm erections. Smoking narrows important blood vessels.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Managing anxiety-induced erectile dysfunction requires taking action to seek effective solutions. Help is available from qualified professionals like the online medical team at The Independent Pharmacy.

The Independent Pharmacy offers private, convenient access from home. You can fill out a confidential self-assessment to describe your situation and symptoms.

Our dedicated healthcare team will then provide personalised recommendations on appropriate treatments to address your erectile difficulties.

Our medical experts can answer questions and provide ongoing support to find the ideal remedies, allowing you to regain sexual health and confidence.

Don’t wait to get help - start by filling out the quick erectile dysfunction assessment today, or get in touch with our team if you have any questions.

FAQs

Do I have ED, or am I just nervous?

It can be difficult to tell if you are truly experiencing erectile dysfunction or short-term issues related to sexual performance anxiety. However, frequent and ongoing issues achieving or maintaining an erection during sexual activity could signify an actual ED problem versus only temporary nervousness. Discuss your symptoms in depth with a medical provider for proper evaluation.

How do you stay erect when nervous?

Staying erect with high anxiety is very difficult. Effective coping involves counselling for stress management, relaxation training, avoiding self-monitoring during sex, and focusing on pleasure feelings rather than performance worries. Medications can also optimise blood flow.

What is the simple trick to cure ED?

There is no instant or guaranteed cure-all for erectile dysfunction. However, treating the underlying cause - whether through lifestyle changes for health conditions contributing to ED, managing anxiety, counselling, medications to improve blood flow, penile devices or interventions based on your diagnosis, can effectively restore satisfying erectile functioning.

Does Viagra help with ED caused by anxiety?

Yes, medications, including sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis), that enhance nitric oxide effects to relax blood vessels can assist with temporary erectile difficulties caused by performance anxiety. Increasing blood flow makes achieving erections easier at the moment when nervousness manifests during sexual encounters. Combining medications with anxiety management provides optimal results.

Sources:

Factors associated with anxiety and depression in patients with erectile dysfunction: a cross-sectional study - PMC (nih.gov)

Erectile dysfunction in patients with anxiety disorders: a systematic review - PMC (nih.gov)

Erectile dysfunction (impotence) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Psychological Factors Related to Impotence as a Sexual Dysfunction in Young Men: A Literature Scan for Noteworthy Research Frameworks - PMC (nih.gov)

About sildenafil (Viagra) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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