Erectile dysfunction is a very common condition, particularly in older men. It is estimated that half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 will have it to some degree.
Why does erectile dysfunction happen?
Erectile dysfunction can have a range of causes, both physical and psychological. Physical causes include:
- narrowing of the blood vessels going to the penis – commonly associated with high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol or diabetes
- hormonal problems
- surgery or injury
- Psychological causes of ED include:
- relationship problems
Sometimes erectile dysfunction only occurs in certain situations. For example, you may be able to get an erection during masturbation, or you may find that you sometimes wake up with an erection but you are unable to get an erection with your sexual partner.
If this is the case, it is likely the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction is psychological (stress related). If you are unable to get an erection under any circumstances, it is likely that the underlying cause is physical.
Erectile dysfunction can also be a side-effect of using certain medicines.
How is erectile dysfunction treated?
Erectile dysfunction is primarily treated by tackling the cause of the problem, whether this is physical or psychological.
The narrowing of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) is one of the most common causes of ED. In these cases your GP may suggest lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, to try to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. This may help to relieve your symptoms as well as improving your general health.
You may also be given medication to treat atherosclerosis, such as cholesterol-lowering statins and drugs to reduce your blood pressure.
A number of treatments have been successful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Medication, such as sildenafil (sold as Viagra), can be used to manage it in at least two-thirds of cases. Vacuum pumps that encourage blood to flow to the penis and cause an erection are also successful in 90% of cases.
Psychological treatments include hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and sex therapy.
Overall, treatments for erectile dysfunction have improved significantly in recent years. Most men are eventually able to have sex again
Study 1: Hypnosis Better Than Placebo or Testosterone for Male Sexual Dysfunction Efficacy of testosterone, trazodone and hypnotic suggestion in the treatment of non-organic male sexual dysfunction.
Results: Men who received a placebo had a 39% improvement in sexual function. The success rates of testosterone and trazodone treatment and hypnotic suggestions in improvement in sexual function were 60%, 67% and 80%, respectively.
Notes: The goal was to examine the effects of hypnotic suggestions or the administration of testosterone or trazodone to impotent men with no detectable organic cause for the impotence. The study comprised 79 men in whom clinical and laboratory examinations revealed no organic cause for their impotence: 20 men (mean age 38.7 +/- 11.47 years) received testosterone, 21 men (mean age 39.5 +/- 10.73 years) received trazodone, 20 men (mean age 34.2 +/- 11.69 years) underwent hypnosis and 18 men (mean age 39.1 +/- 11.46 years) served as controls. They were assessed by interview 4, 6 and 8 weeks after starting treatment: the patient’s reports were verified by interviewing their partners.
Br J Urol. 1996 Feb;77(2):256-60
By: S. Aydin, O. Odabas, M. Ercan, H. Kara, M. Y. Agargün, Department of Urology, Medical School of Yüzüncü Yil University, Van, Turkey
Study 2: Hypnosis For Male Sexual Dysfunction With No Detectable Organic Cause
Acupuncture and hypnotic suggestions in the treatment of non-organic male sexual dysfunction
Results: Men who received placebo had a 43-47% improvement in sexual function. The success rates of acupuncture and hypnotic suggestions were 60% and 75% respectively.
Notes: This study examined the effects of acupuncture and hypnotic suggestions, and compared them with placebo in the treatment of male sexual dysfunction with no detectable organic cause. The study comprised 15 men (mean age 36.7 +/- 10.43 years) who received acupuncture treatment, 16 men (mean age 38.4 +/- 10.75 years) who underwent hypnosis (mean age 35.3 +/- 11.52 years) and 29 men (mean age 36.2 +/- 11.38 years) who served as controls. They were interviewed periodically; the patients’ reports were verified by interviewing their partners.
Scandanavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology, 1997 Jun; 31(3): 271-4
By: S. Aydin; M. Ercan; T. Cas¸kurlu; A. I. Tas¸ C¸ I.; I. Karaman
Study 3: Case Study: Hypnosis for Erectile Dysfunction
Hypnosis in Human Sexuality Problems
Results: In one case described in this paper, hypnosis is used to treat erectile dysfunction. The 29 year old subject became “numb” and his penis “dead” when he was alone with a woman – even though he was sexually attracted. His desire turned into arousal after less than 2 months in every other week sessions of hypnotherapy. Inductions aimed to reduce tension were used in the first place to allow the subject to reach an adequate level of relaxation. Imaginative and coloring techniques (techniques in which mental images are freely modified by subjects in a deep relaxation state) were then used. The involvement in mental images was obtained by asking the patient to imagine the women with whom he had had a relationship in the past.
Notes: In this study the efficacy in the treatment of sexual problems of the so-called “new hypnosis”, built on Milton Erickson’s intuitions, sets the patient at the center of hypnotic therapy and is more flexible and less bound to standardized phrases and inductions compared to traditional hypnosis. In this study, the author underlines that the therapies for sexual dysfunctions that are able to involve imaginative processes (the ability of the subject to build and get involved in mental images) have more consistent results compared to cognitive therapies. The authors of this paper describe erectile dysfunction issues as follows: the common problem is that the patient is interested in sex and wants to enjoy sexual pleasure but this physical reaction is slow or absent, even though there is no medical reason for this conflict between desire and response. Because frequently sexual arousal issues result from anxiety and tension, the authors note the value of hypnotic relaxation through breathing while focusing on a pleasant mental image, not necessarily sexual at first. This becomes the initial hypnotic work to help the patient obtain a clear experience of natural relaxation. Once clients are convinced of their ability to control their anxiety about sexual performance, fear of intimacy, anger, guilt, or other feelings that produce stress, they can move on to the other hypnotic techniques presented in this study.
Am. Jrnl of Clinical Hypnosis, April 2005 47:4
By: Daniel Araoz, Long Island University, Dept. of Counseling and Development