Erectile Dysfunction Gettin’ You Down? Here’s Why.

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warning adult content

Late one night while watching Sex & the City (and simultaneously torturing my boyfriend), the episode where newlywed Charlotte discovers that Trey has issues “getting it up” was on.

There’s no greater way to quickly halt the honeymoon phase of any relationship than with the new-found knowledge that your partner has: erectile dysfunction.

Two horrifying words for both men and women because it indicates one vital thing:

someone ain’t gettin’ any

and that’s a tragedy in and of itself.

At the end of the episode, my partner turned to me and asked,

“why does that happen to some men?”

I realized I didn’t have an answer for him which led me to this blog post in search of it.

Erectile Dysfunction is one of several types of sexual dysfunction disorders characterized by the inability to develop or maintain the erection of the penis during sexual activity in humans [2].

Before I run through how this comes about, let’s first get a brief understanding of what happens during an erection.

For starters, an erection is a hydraulic effect of blood entering and being retained in the sponge-like bodies of the penis [1].

So how DO erections work?

The penis is an organ with paired erection chambers (corpora cavernosa) that are filled with spongy erectile tissues (corporal sinusoids), which are composed predominantly of muscle [1].

An erection, or loss thereof, is related primarily to blood flow events regulated by the relaxation and contraction of the smooth muscles in the penile arteries and erectile bodies.

It is regulated by hormones and nerves, which allows for the increase of blood flow into and storage of blood supply within the erectile bodies.  This reaction leads to an increase in pressure and thus, TA-DA!, an erection ensues!

penile erection diagram

The penile erection has two mechanisms:

  1. Reflex Erection (direct stimulation)
  • Brought on by directly touching penile shaft
  • Activates the peripheral nerves and lower parts of the spinal cord.
  • Leads to secretion of nitric oxide (NO) which relaxes the smooth muscles of the corpora cavernosa (the main erectile tissue of the penis).
  1. Psychogenic Erection (brain stimuli)
  • Rooted in erotic/emotional stimuli
  • Activates the limbic system
  • This includes fantasy, smell, etc

Once stimulated, chemicals are released in the brain which send signals that are passed down the spinal cord and outward through special nerves (called nervier gentes) that go to the penis.

These special nerves release Nitrous Oxide that causes the smooth muscles in the corpus cavernosa to relax and blood rushes into the erectile bodies, causing an erection.

An erection also requires adequate levels of testosterone and an in tact pituitary gland and neural system.

Too much information? Here’s a video to sum it up:

When the hydraulic pump isn’t working…

Problems with erection stem from one of the following issues:

1) Hormonal deficiencies

2) Neural system disorders

3) lack of adequate blood supply to penis

4) Psychological problems.

In the broad sense, sexual dysfunction is a problem occurring during any phase of the sexual response cycle which prevents individuals and couples from experiencing sexual satisfaction [3].

A common condition that affects 43% of women and 31% of men [3] — there are four general types:

  1. Desire Disorders: lack of interest/desire
  2. Arousal Disorders: inability to become physically aroused/excited
  3. Orgasm Disorders: delay/absence of climax
  4. Pain Disorders: pain during intercourse

Women experience their own variations of sexual dysfunction however, I’m going to focus on the fellas for today.  I’ll cover the female conditions on another post.

For men, the main types are [4]:

Erectile Dysfunction: difficulty getting/keeping an erection

Premature Ejaculation: reaching orgasm too quickly

Delayed or Inhibited Ejaculation: reaching orgasm too slowly or not at all

Low Libido: decreased interest

What causes these issues?

Root causes for sexual dysfunctions can be [2, 3, 4]:

table of causes of erectile dysfunction

So what’s the resolution?

Treatment options can include one or a combination of the following depending on the root cause: medicine, mechanical aids (vacuum devices and penile implants), sex therapy, behavioral treatment, psychotherapy, and education/communication.

As always, the first step is to admit that things ain’t workin’ and seek help to have it corrected.

In the case of Trey, his ordeal had a psychological root that was overcome with marital counseling.  Still, Charlotte and Trey divorced — but at least it wasn’t due to his flaccid member.  

For men out there with this condition, know that there is hope and that it’s most likely your brain playing a cruel, cruel trick on you – whether physical or psychological since all erections start in the brain.  

For the ladies, have patience! it’s not easy when you’re dispatching commands to your brain and it outright disobeys each request.

It’s during situations like that where humor is most essential.  Learn to laugh about your shortcomings and bring light into situations like these which can cloud your relationships and your self-esteem; not to mention your ego, pride, self-respect, etc… but I digress.. Again, it’s important to laugh about these things: 

bearman cartoon can't get it up

Either way, even if neither of you find it funny: your brain probably does.

And the brain always wins.

 

So what are your thoughts on the matter? Got anything to add to the topic?

This is a personal and sensitive topic.  I know not everyone wants to disclose their personal sh*t on here – so feel free to comment about whatever below.  Just know that I personally won’t judge you, others might, but I won’t. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!

Sources: Header Image, 1, 2, 3, 4

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4 Comments
  • Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats
    May 12, 2016 at 12:45 PM

    Hi Iva, I did research on sexual dysfunctions and published a few articles on it, especially among those with sexual trauma when the issue was usually trauma related (although not always). Good info for those looking for information and important topic! ~ Jessica

    Reply
  • Jen
    May 24, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    Girl I haven’t had the D in over 5 months and just looking at those pictures is making me drool. Here’s hoping the next dude who is lucky enough to get lucky with me doesn’t struggle with any of these issues…and here’s hoping if he does, I can work some mental mojo to magically make it all better.

    Reply
  • Charlotte
    July 20, 2016 at 12:16 PM

    Very very interesting (and as a devout SATC fan, I totally remember this episode). I love the video you share in this post, and find it interesting that the brain really controls absolutely EVERY (re)action and apparently every organ within the body… and that it has such absolutely dominant control. I understand the fight-or-flight response as I deal with severe social anxiety, so I get that part of it. Also Jen’s comment is pretty kick ass 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. I’ve missed you! Wonderful to be back here today. XOXO

    Reply
  • Charlotte
    September 20, 2016 at 12:30 PM

    The pic you use at the top of this post always makes me laugh, lol. Please come back to blogging–you are missed!!! XOXO

    Reply

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