According to an international study, the incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) is estimated at 150 million men worldwide. So, what causes sexual dysfunctions in men?
Why do men get ‘too tired’ for sex? Initial brainstorming with several women yielded these gems: “He’s a chronic masturbator”; “He’s secretly gay”; “He has performance anxiety”; “He’s found God”; “As long as he isn’t getting it elsewhere, we can both be celibate” and “He can’t get it up and is pretending he’s exhausted”. Several factors can bring a man’s engines to a sputtering stop and he may not necessarily have found solace in another woman’s bed (but run over our checklist below, just to make sure!).
WHEN HE HAS A SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION
Sexual dysfunction can be defined as a variety of problems from arousal (like, impotence – failing to achieve or maintain an erection) to desire (like, lack of interest in sex) and fear of intimacy. Since so many options are now available for the treatment of ED, disorders caused by a number of factors must be assessed when treating sexual dysfunction: psychological issues, childhood problems, sexual history, marital stability and communication, mood disorders or emotional problems and a history of sexual abuse.
When his workload piles up too high, sex often slides into second, third or no place. Stress is probably the major cause of loss of desire in most males. De-stressing is important. Women are socialised to believe men want sex all the time. So when he doesn’t always feel horny, women feel personally rejected. An honest conversation is required, or else you’ll wear out your vibrator and start looking around for another man.
MEDICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Erections are about blood engorging the penis. So, diabetics often face ED owing to the changes induced in the penis by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high glucose. Additionally, some of the medicines used to treat these conditions can also cause ED. Diabetics normally don’t lack a desire for sex, but their ability to perform is reduced. Physical factors like fatigue, chronic illnesses, hormonal imbalances and nerve damage are common causes for a sudden disinterest in sex. So, don’t sit on uncertainty. It’s important to rule out underlying medical causes for his inability to rise to the occasion. Some common emotional causes of ED are anxiety, depression, anger and sexual ignorance. Furthermore, being overweight, taking pills for blood pressure, tranquillisers or anti-depressants can all reduce sexual desire and performance too. A person may be depressed and not be aware of it. Consult a counsellor.
After a night of heavy drinking, the only thing one wants to do in bed is sleep. As Shakespeare says of alcohol in Macbeth: “…it provokes and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance…” Basically, alcohol inhibits the inhibitory neurons and the individual acts more spontaneously. It therefore increases sexual desire initially – but alcohol also reduces the ability to perform, thereby leading to ED. Stop the cycle of sexless nights! If his drinking’s getting out of hand, look up Alcoholics Anonymous. Drug abuse, too, can cause sexual problems. Get him rehab help.
NOT ALL’S LOST
All cases of dysfunction are not extreme. Seema (names changed), 28, says her sex life took a nose-dive when her husband developed a fear of making her pregnant. “So I started taking my pill at the breakfast table, and I think that reassured him.” Riya, 31, says her boyfriend used to have performance anxiety, so they limited themselves to oral sex until he was comfortable enough to go all the way. “He got over it,” she smiles, “so women needn’t think it’s all over forever if there are some dry spells.” Performance anxiety is a common problem in men with both shortand long-term erection failures.
THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH
If a couple has other problems in their relationship – disagreements about money, child-rearing or domestic roles – the resentment may creep into the bedroom. Also, when a man can predict every move his partner’s going to make, or when intercourse is relegated to the same time-slot (every Tuesday and Saturday, straight after the late TV news and always in the bedroom!), the prospect of intercourse is often less than thrilling. So what can you do if your bedroom’s become a bored-room? Address the relationship problems which have led to the sexual stagnation – either through honest communication, professional counselling, self-help books and weekends away together or apart.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
When none of these reasons explain your man’s lack of desire, it’s only natural to start suspecting he’s taken out third party insurance. You have grounds for real concern if:
The speed with which he dives for his ringing cellphone would put an Olympic gold medallist sprinter to shame
He suddenly takes off on frequent weekend business trips. Strangely, none of the hotels he’s staying at have a contact number
There’s an inexplicable new password on his e-mail account, suspicious scents and smears on his clothing and/or scratch/bite marks on his body that didn’t come from you
Your gut instinct tells you something’s wrong – either he’s been evasive or over-effusive, plying you with compliments and flowers. Remember, in this age of HIV/Aids, you need to confront your man at once if you truly have cause to believe he’s been messing around.