There are plenty of physical causes for erectile dysfunction. If you suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or any number of other health problems, they can affect your ability to perform sexually. While a doctor can perform a battery of tests to look for underlying medical conditions that can affect your sex life, it’s likely that he’ll also ask you questions about your mental state and your thoughts and feelings as well. That’s because what’s going on in your head is just as important as what’s going on in the rest of your body when it comes to diagnosing erectile dysfunction.
Doctors often prescribe sildenafil, which is the chemical name for both brand name and generic Viagra, in order to help their patients achieve an erection when they’re ready for sexual relations. But it’s not necessarily a physical problem that’s keeping their patients from performing. Up to 20 percent of all cases of erectile dysfunction are attributed to emotional and psychological factors that enter into the relationship with a sex partner. That’s why doctors question you about more than your physical well being if you report a bout of erectile dysfunction.
If you’ve ever gotten nervous because you had to speak in public, or have gotten upset before a big game if you play sports, you understand what performance anxiety is. Your mind and body work together to allow you to function as a person, and the same factors that can make you stutter when addressing a crowd or miss an easy shot on goal because the crowd is roaring can also make you have trouble achieving sexual intimacy if there are underlying problems with your partner, or other parts of your life.
There are many psychological factors that can affect your ability to achieve and maintain an erection during sex, including things like feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, or very high expectations for performance that have entered into a relationship. If your comfort level with a sex partner is low or you have trouble communicating with them, you could find yourself anxious and unable to perform, and this can also snowball into worrying about sexual performance all the time.
Many times the worries that accompany you into the bedroom and keep you from performing sexually have nothing at all to do with your sex life or your underlying physical condition. It’s just as likely that you could suffer from a bout of erectile dysfunction because you’re worried about things like money or a promotion at work as worrying about sexual intimacy itself.
Worries that carry over from the non-sexual part of your life can also encourage you to engage in certain behaviors that can affect your physical ability to perform sexually. If you’re concerned about money matters, for instance, you might begin to drink too much alcohol, abuse prescription or other painkillers, or begin smoking heavily. Sometimes coping with stress in one part of your life can lead to additional stresses in other parts of you life. That’s why it’s important to talk to both your doctor and your sexual partner candidly about all the things that might be affecting your ability to perform sexually, so that you can feel more at ease and stop the cycle of anxiety and dysfunction.