Male Sexual Problems
BOOKS WHICH MAY HELP
- The New Male Sexuality by Bernie Zilbergeld
- Great Sex by Michael Castleman
- The Muliti-Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia
- Sex on the Brain by Daniel Amen
Men take sex seriously! Successful sexual functioning gives men the confidence and self-esteem both in and out of the bedroom. Performing well sexually provides a man with power to relate proudly with his partner, but to also own his power throughout the relationship. Men take great pride in sexual performance and their sexual skills. Most men regard good sexual performance as a masculine obligation and put much pressure on themselves to succeed.
This problem can be caused by physical or emotional obstacles. Poor health, heart problems, circulatory problems and medications, especially blood pressure medicine, can all result in poor erections or lack of erections altogether. Aging is a factor that naturally causes softer erections and the slower process of getting an erection. If an erection fails to live up to a man’s expectations or his partner, the conditions are present for the cycle of performance anxiety to be generated in which erectile dysfunction becomes a pattern. However, strong negative emotions can also eliminate the potential for a man to experience a solid erection. Fear, anxiety, stress, pre-occupation, anger can all interfere with full erections. If a man is in conflict with his sexual partner or harbors resentment towards the partner, he may have difficulty or the inability to achieve an erection.
The Effect of Aging on a Penis
As a man ages, so does his penis. Age-related changes are viewed negatively by most men and represent a loss. The changes a man experiences in his erections vary from man to man, but the aging process includes changes that are typical, such as erections which are not as firm as decades earlier. The older a man is, the amount of time to become erect is greater. As age increases, the negative factors that had interfered with a full erection occasionally, will prevent an erection often and easily, such as anxiety, busy mind or tension between he and his partner. A young man may become aroused upon seeing something or someone erotic (which can be embarrassing for a young man) but for an older man, an erection is unlikely even though he may be mentally aroused. Older men required direct stimulation to get and maintain an erection, a fact that can be disturbing to some men.
Aging introduces many challenges as bodies experience tests to health. A healthy older man, into his 70’s or 80’s may experience full sexual functionality and sexual interest if he has good health. However, the opposite is also true, if a man is physically unhealthy he runs a high risk of losing sexual function. Heart problems and the associated medicine are an enemy to good erections. High blood pressure treated with high blood pressure medications are literally erection-killers. Physical pain can routinely interrupt arousal reducing the likelihood of a good erection. Indirect to physical health is relationship health; most older are in older relationships, which have had longer than younger relationships to accumulate sources of resentment, that if not resolved may prevent arousal and erections when very close to the romantic partner.
Premature Ejaculation (PE)
A man suffers from premature ejaculation when he is unable to possess sufficient control over the timing of his ejaculation to satisfy himself and his partner. In extreme cases, a man may lack the control to delay ejaculation even before the penetration of intercourse has begun. Many men do not possess sufficient ejaculatory control to hold off on ejaculating beyond one, two, or three minutes into intercourse, but well before he would prefer to time his ejaculation.
Lack of control causes men to be burdened with powerfully negative feelings of shame, embarrassment and inadequacy. Some men are so deeply bothered by their lack of ejaculatory control that they avoid sexual opportunities, and those that are single, avoid potential sexual partners that comes with dating. Men who suffer with premature ejaculation experience a cycle of performance anxiety where their worry interferes with ejaculatory success and resolving the problem.
See below the section on performance anxiety
Men in long-term relationships who suffer from PE get caught in a cycle of frustration with their female partners. When disappointing sexual experiences become the norm, female frustration may progress to contempt. Some female partners discontinue all sexual experiences when their male partner has not demonstrated good ejaculatory control, enough to provide her with satisfaction. An array of negative feelings will ripple throughout the relationship making problem resolution many times more difficult while partner suffering increases. Men are able to develop the kind of control they desire. With an increase in muscular control, sensitivity to their arousal, greater awareness of their emotional state, an increased capacity to relax and improved confidence, a man can possess the kind of control he seeks.
Inhibited or Lack of Ejaculation
Few men talk about this problem, which is the limited or inability to reach orgasm. Men suffering from this grow frustrated by their inability, and may be troubled by their partner’s reaction, such as taking their lack of ejaculation personally, as an indication of undesirability and feelings of lack of love. At its worst, sufferers are unable to ejaculate ever when with their partner. Delayed ejaculation may also result in negative effects to the sexual relationship between partners. In their desire for orgasmic success, partners may make lengthy efforts mostly resulting in loss of arousal, soreness, disappointment and frustration.
Compulsive Sexual Desire (Sexual Addiction)
Sex is a powerful force, though most men are able to sufficiently control their sexual desire from becoming unhealthy, unwanted or risky sexual behaviors. Men with sexual compulsion or sexual addiction do not possess the necessary control to curb risky, self-destructive sexual behaviors, thus create problems for themselves, their partners and families. These men struggle with self-esteem, anxiety often due to past trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse.
For men sex is deeply tied to their sense of their selves, thus when a man experiences deep inner pain or shame, he is likely to express it sexually. Men will seek to address their woundedness, experienced by him as incessant and unrelenting sexual desire, causing him to attempt relief through repetitive and frequent sexual experiences, such as compulsive masturbating to porn, demanding a high frequency of sex with the romantic partner, initiating frequent sexual hookups, and even sex in situations that are dangerous and highly unhealthy without regard to the effect on those who will be impacted, such as a romantic partner, family and friends. Sex and orgasm pump up a sense of self-worth and orgasm provides good feelings due to the release of brain chemicals that decease depression, increase pain threshold and provide a sense of well-being, a positive alternative to his daily feelings.
The man who is sexually compelled will experience his sexual drive as controlling him; that he has no choice about it and cannot stop. Though externally the out-of-control sexual patterns look a lot like addiction, they are actually an expression of an emotional need for inner healing, self-love.
Men get caught in a cycle of intensifying sexual desire. His need for sexual gratification does not heal his inner pain, shame and self-hate. On the contrary, the more he pursues relief through sex, the more he hates himself which energizes his cycle of compulsion.
Performance anxiety is an emotional trap. Once a man has experience of failed sexual performance and reacts with horror, a pattern becomes entrenched in which he worries about his performance in each subsequent sexual opportunity. Because a relaxed and positive attitude supports good sex and successful male sexual performance and fear, worry and negative feelings undermine good sexual performance, his worry contributes to a re-occurring self-fulfilling prophesy in which failed performance is worried about so failed performance occurs.
For maintained arousal, manifested by an erection, a man must be relaxed and undistracted to enjoy the pleasure of excited feelings in his body. If anxious, he is less likely to maintain arousal and be unaware or insensitive to physical sensations of excitement; he will lose his erection. The cycle is then repeated.
Men who have experienced failed sexual performance may be beset with painful feelings of inadequacy. Such men have a tendency to avoid sexual encounters.
Performance anxiety is an anxiety-based emotional trap that may snare anyone at anytime high pressure for high performance is in place. Whether it be a student regarding tests, an athlete regarding competitive success, a woman regarding sexual arousal, all are prone to vicious cycles of performance anxiety.
Pornography and Porn Addiction
The use of pornography is widespread. In many cases men and their partners incorporate sexual material into their sex play in creative and positive ways often times as an aid to arousal. Yet in other circumstances, pornography for some men is an is used the heighten excitement during sexually compulsive behaviors. The combination of the high excitement and compulsivity supercharges a behavior cycle that becomes very hard, impossible for others, to stop. In relationships where their partners are opposed to the presence of pornography, porn represents a destructive force to the relationship, an infidelity, and the healthiness of a couple’s sex life. Andrew Aaron, LICSW has helped many men and their partners negotiate the treacherous waters surrounding the issues of pornography.
High Sexual Desire
Some do not regard this as a problem but just a healthy sign of masculine virility. Not all sexual desire is related to emotional pain. The presence of high level of the hormone testosterone produces high levels of sexual desire. Many men are not sexually compulsive…they do not act out sexually and their sexual desire is not driven by a desire to heal shame. Some men just have high and unrelenting sexual desire. These men are the ones that are the prototype for female’s myth about men and sex; men whose desire cannot be quenched.
High sexual desire is multi-faceted; men like feeling virile and like fitting into the high sexual model of great masculinity, certainly men like the pleasure of sex and being close to a woman and pleasing her, but the chronic sexual desire is uncomfortable, is present even when no sexual opportunity exists or at inappropriate times the result of which is that sexual desire is a distraction. Even after a sexual experience culminating in orgasm, within minutes the sexual desire is back. Though rarely does a man complain, but secretly many men wish their strong desire would go away sometimes. High sexual desire can be unrelenting, uncomfortable and the cause of distress.
Men masturbate. The famous sex researcher William Masters said, “If you asked 100 men, 99 will admit to masturbating and one will lie about it.“ While the statistics might not be quite so extreme, masturbation is so common that we can only conclude that it is normal. But as common and normal as it is, most men still feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. It has also been said, “I f men weren’t meant to masturbate, God would have created men with shorter arms.”
However, anything can go to an extreme and many men masturbate to an extreme frequency, usually a reaction to feelings of personal shame, low self-esteem and anxiety. (See the section above about Sexual Compulsive Sexual Behavior) Because sexual stimulation is so pleasurable, for men who are inwardly suffering, the pleasure of masturbation is an attempt to feel better.
Because men strongly link a sense of self, self-esteem and their sexuality, when men emotionally suffer, they often express their pain and attempt to soothe their pain through sexual behaviors.
Discrepancy of Sexual Desire
When sexual partners differ on the preferred frequency of sexual activity, tension may build between partners and even be the source of arguments. Unresolved, discrepancy of sexual desire may result in significant damage to the relationship and connection between partners, well beyond the arena of sex. As relationships transition through developmental phases, differences in sexual interest will increase and decrease causing tension due to frequency or infrequency.
See article: Sexual Desire and Men
See article on: Discrepancy of Sexual Desire
See article: Battling Desire Discrepancy
Discrepancy of Sexual Interests
What each one of us defines as good or great sex varies from person to person. When sexual needs or interests vary widely, problems with sex are sure to follow. Couples who easily and openly talk about sex may be able to resolve such a discrepancy, but most couples are not comfortable with talk of sex and do not engage in this kind of communication. Unsolved, discrepancy of sexual interest may result in tension between partners, but also an accumulation of frustration, resentment and loss of interest in sex and infrequent sex.
See also article: Eroticism: What Turns Us On
See also article: Battling Bedroom Boredom
See article on: Curing the Sexless Marriage
The importance of testosterone has become larger in the public’s awareness due to heavy advertising for testosterone supplements. Testosterone is the hormone most responsible for sex desire. Both men and women have testosterone but men’s bodies have and produce hundreds of times more testosterone than women’s bodies. As men and women age, testosterone levels naturally drop slowly throughout a life.
A low level of testosterone can result in serious health and emotional problems for men in addition to sexually-related deficits. When at very low levels, men will manifest some or all of the following symptoms: fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, depression, weight gain and sexual problems of no or low sexual desire, lack of sexual fantasies and poor or absent erections. Men with low testosterone may also experience an absence of morning erections. Untreated, these symptoms can prove dangerous at worst, but in marriages and love relationships, a lack of sexual desire and a tendency towards depression is sure to create relationship problems.
As a group men worry about their sexuality and sexual performance. Many men are concerned that their penises are not good enough, that their are not masculine enough and that they do not sexually please their female partners enough. As aging occurs men experience a natural decline in the intensity and quantity of sexual desire and energy levels.
Purveyors of testosterone supplements are very aware of men’s sexual insecurities and take advantage of this by marketing to men supplements that most do not need, but think they do. A man who works long hours and feels tired much of the time is easily persuaded that his fatigue indicates something is wrong and that testosterone will give him the desired energy while also boosting his energy level and sexual vitality at the same time.
Men may get their testosterone levels checked via a blood test with their family physician. However, the interactions of testosterone within a man’s body is complex. The simple blood test may provide an incomplete evaluation. An endocrinologist will offer testing that is far more complete and accurate.
Strong and Negative Emotions
Often men are unaware of their emotional state. Negative emotions of anxiety, worry, fear, insecurity as well as irritation, aggravation, stress and tension with a sexual partner can easily dominate sexual desire or arousal causing erection loss, poor sexual functioning and dissatisfying sex. Men routinely underestimate how amazingly powerful emotions can be. Low testosterone is real and some men suffer from it. Most men can boost their testosterone levels by exercising more frequently. Those who sell testosterone supplements profit from men who prefer a quick pill-like solution rather than the work of exercise, learning about their emotions or repairing their relationships.
For many emotional reasons, including those mentioned above, many men avoid sex, contrary to the prevailing myth that all men possess intense and incessant sexual desire. Some men have low desire or lack of desire which may be caused by low testosterone, depression or lack of confidence brought on by experiences of failed sexual performance.
Men who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence, especially as a child are highly likely to avoid sexual activity. If painful memories are repressed, a man might not even consciously know why he avoids sex. Such a situation is very confusing to some men and their female partners.
Others men suffer from depression or relationship complications seek to avoid being sexual with their partners. The effect of sexual avoidance can be negative and profound, from continuous hurt to the partner to causing an end to relationships.