Erectile dysfunction (also known as 'ED') is a clinical term usually defined as the inability to develop and maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity.
We don't tend to think the idea of "normal" is helpful to experiencing sexual pleasure, and we know that even clinicians don't agree on how often or for how long you might have difficulties with erections before you would be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction.
Here's what we know: everyone who gets erections will experience changes over time with how the erections might feel. They could get harder or softer, they may happen when you don't want them to, and might not happen when you do. Folks often find that erections are easier to acheive and harder when they're young, and become softer and less easily aroused as we age.
Instead of measuring your erections against an arbitrary norm, think about what you want, and how you can go about getting it.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
You may have felt like your erections were once so hard they would never go away. But erections are actually incredibly sensitive measures of our overall health. Changes in erections can be caused by one or a combination of many factors.
These can include changes in hormones and cardiovascular health or diseases such as diabetes. Drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical, can cause ED as a side effect. If you are experiencing changes in erections, it's probably a good time to check in with your health professional to ensure that your changing erections are not an early indication of a health problem.
Stress, anxiety, distraction, fear, and any number of other thoughts and feelings can, and do, get in the way of having the kinds of erections you may want.
Our society's rigid gender roles often result in people carrying a lot of conflict, guilt, shame, and anger about the way they are portrayed and treated in society. These messages can, and commonly do, impact physical sexual response, particularly when it comes to erectionsthe most visible sign of sexuality.
Difficulties with erections may have little or nothing to do with physical issues and may be the result of relationship and interpersonal conflict, including abuse.
What To Do When You Are Expecting...Erections!
Talking with your partner about sexual expectations is important. Does sex only "happen" when there's an erection? If so, it's worth questioning whether that's causing you undue stress and whether that always has to be the case. There are so many ways to experience connection, intimacy, and hot sex without an erection. Feeling like you don't need an erection to give and receive pleasure can open up worlds of possibility!
Expanding Your Options
Beyond drug treatments, there are many ways of preventing and managing ED. These include learning to manage your stress or medical condition, shifting your diet, opening up your communication with your partner(s) and much more. In addition to seeing a medical professional, you may find talking to a counselor or sex therapist a helpful way to address your changing erections.
Add Something New: Try A Toy!
Aneros: This line of medically designed prostate massagers can help increase blood flow, improve prostate health, and for many, offers a pleasurable experience with or without touching the penis.
Penis Rings: By restricting blood flow, rings can result in a harder, longer lasting erection for some folks. Many people also find the sensation they create pleasurable.
Vibrators can be fun for all! Vibrators can help you explore new sensations while increasing blood flow.
Pumps are a simple, effective, natural and often inexpensive way to create an erection. Add some lube to create a good seal and experiment with suction to see what feels right. Add a ring for more fun.