The toll of stress, anxiety and depression on virility

The toll of stress, anxiety and depression on virility

By Liz Lockhart

More than 40 per cent of men will have suffered from erectile dysfunction by the time they are 40, whilst 65 per cent of the over 60’s will be effected.

It is estimated that 2.3 million men in Britain suffer from varying forms of erectile dysfunction so it is particularly bad news that last week, British researchers revealed that impotence drugs such as Viagra might cause sudden hearing loss.

Physical and mental causes

It is important to remember that the biggest causes of this condition are stress, anxiety and depression.  The use of drugs for these mental health conditions can also be a factor in the loss of libido.  Anti-depressants and blood pressure tablets can impede performance greatly.

There are, of course, physical conditions which play a part in erectile dysfunction too.  Diabetes, testosterone deficiencies and smoking are some of the physical conditions which can precipitate problems in this area.

Even if you have only encountered erection problems just once the seed is planted that it could happen again.  It’s all very well that partners tell you not to worry about it.  Just the process of not worrying can cause your mind to stray straight back to the problem you are trying to avoid.  

Anxiety and stress stop the pituitary gland from secreting the hormones needed for sex.  When the body goes into the ‘flight or flight’ mode then you shut down all of your non-essential function and sex is just one of them.

Resolving the problem

It can be very useful to consider consulting with a counsellor if you feel that stress, anxiety or depression is the contributing factor for your particular lack of performance.

Now that Viagra is reputed to cause sudden loss of hearing it may be worth taking a look at alternative treatments, pills and potions.

  • Injections.  These usually contain the drugs Caverject or Viridal.  You inject directly into the spongy parts of the penis.  It is only available on prescription and works by preventing blood from leaving the penis after it has flowed in.  This treatment can be very effective but the downside is that the thought of injecting the penis is very off-putting for many men.
  • Prescription Drugs.  If you don’t want to try Viagra there are other options which include Cialis and Levitra.  These work by relaxing the blood vessels allowing blood flow for an erection.  These drugs can be very useful as they help with both the psychological and the physical causes of erectile dysfunction.
  • Testosterone Patches and Gels.  Both low libido and erectile dysfunction can be helped with this form of treatment.  These are available on prescription only and can come in the form of tablets, patches and gels.  These gels can be very effective, although once thought to increase the risk of prostate cancer, new research suggests that this may not be the case.
  • Rubber Rings.  These items are readily available from most pharmacies and can be very useful as they stop the blood flowing out of the penis once erection has been achieved.  They can also be good fun and come in different colours and even vibrating ones and can be very inexpensive.  You must be careful not to wear these for more than 30 minutes as it may cause tissue damage.
  • Alternative Medicines.  Ginseng and L-Arginine are two commonly used ‘natural’ alternatives to chemical tablets.  Both of these have been widely tested and have not been found to be of any benefit to erectile dysfunction.  If, however, you have found that it works for you then keep taking the medication.  Sometimes the placebo effect really does work.

There are, of course many other courses of action, the last one being surgical treatment.  This is something that is only ever undertaken as the last step and in very severe cases. 

Just remember that the brain is a wonderful and powerful organ.  If you suffer from erectile dysfunction and there does not seem to be any physical cause for it then the very best course of action would be to seek counselling.  As mentioned earlier, it’s fine to say don’t worry but worry you will and you need to talk through what is troubling you.  You would be amazed to know how many people have overcome this problem with talking therapies.

Relevant articles

We hope you will find the following links useful:

Man Talk - Erectile Dysfunction

Why men find it hard to go to the doctor

Psychology and libido

What is anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms

What is depression?

Depression symptoms

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