Most men will have difficulty getting an erection from time to time, but when the problem is persistent, you may be suffering from erectile dysfunction. The issue is more common in older men, with about half of 40 to 70 year old men suffering from the problem, increasing to 70 percent of those aged over 70. Although the cause is physical in many cases, psychological factors can also have a role to play, and in these cases erectile dysfunction counselling in Luton and Dunstable may be the best approach to treatment.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction – also known as impotence – can be caused by both physical and psychological problems, and is generally defined as being unable to get an erection of sufficient stiffness for sexual intercourse. Physical issues leading to erectile dysfunction can be split into four basic groups: conditions that affect blood flow to your penis, conditions affecting your hormones, anatomical differences in the penis and issues with your nervous system. Specific conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and an overactive or underactive thyroid. Certain medicines can also lead to the problem, including anti-depressants, medicines to treat high blood pressure (like beta blockers) and corticosteroids.
Psychological issues can also lead to erectile dysfunction, in particular stress, depression and anxiety. Additionally, sexual problems or sexual abuse in the past, as well as issues in your relationship or a lack of knowledge about sex can lead to problems getting an erection. It may also be due to a combination of physical and psychological issues – for example, occasional erectile dysfunction due to problems with blood flow may lead to low self esteem, stress and anxiety, which in turn exacerbate the issue.
Generally speaking, if you can get erections in some circumstances (such as the first thing in the morning or when masturbating) but not in others (such as when trying to have sex), this is a sign that the problem is psychological rather than physical. Erectile dysfunction due to physical causes may also have a knock-on effect on psychological well-being, meaning that erectile dysfunction counselling may be beneficial even if the primary cause is physical.
Erectile Dysfunction Counselling and Treatment
The recommended treatment for erectile dysfunction is dependent on the cause of the problem – if the cause is physical, an appropriate medicine or intervention will be provided, but if it’s psychological in origin, erectile dysfunction counselling is the preferred approach. For example, narrow arteries is one of the most common causes of the problem, and in these cases lifestyle changes – namely improving diet, stopping smoking and doing more exercise – will be suggested to tackle the underlying issue, possibly in addition to medicines like statins (which reduce cholesterol) or ones to help with high blood pressure. Other approaches, such as Viagra (sildenafil) or vacuum pumps (which encourage blood flow to the penis) may also be used.
Counselling usually takes the form of either psychosexual counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. Psychosexual counselling involves exploring the sexual, emotional and psychological issues potentially leading to the problem with a counsellor, and preferably with your partner also present (because sexual issues affect both members of a couple, but you can attend individually if you prefer). When the relevant issues have been identified, steps can be taken to overcome and address them to help with your erectile dysfunction, often alongside more practical techniques like sensate focus therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy is broadly similar – aiming to identify and help with the psychological root causes of the problem – but focuses on the interaction between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and how this may be contributing to the issue.
If you’re considering erectile dysfunction counselling in Luton and Dunstable, whether to address the cause of the issue or to cope with its psychological consequences (like low self esteem or sex-related anxiety), we’re here to help. It’s best to visit your GP to rule out possible physical causes, but if you want more information about how counselling for erectile dysfunction works – or would like to book a session – get in touch with us today! For more information about our costs for erectile dysfunction counselling services please see the about us page.