Let's talk about erection fluctuation
rather than erectile dysfunction.
It must be really hard for people with penises given the expectations that are placed on them. I don’t have a penis but I have experienced a lot of them in all sorts of states. The most important thing about penises, I believe, is the quality of the person they are attached to.
Reframing an issue in one’s head can go a long way to changing one’s experience with it. I believe this to be particularly true when talking about erectile fluctuation.
The fluctuating nature of erections is not a dysfunction. It is a normal experience for most people with penises that can be affected by age, physical health, mental health, medication and stress. When a penis is still physiologically able to have erections - even if less often or reliably than one may be used to - it is important to understand the natural maturation process means:
GUARANTEED ERECTIONS ARE AN UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION FOR
MOST penises over 30
MAJORITY of penises over 40
ALL penises over 50
As well as ageing, there are other PHYSIOLOGICAL CAUSES that can affect erections such as:
Grief, fear, anxiety, stress, fatigue
Attitude towards bodies/genitals/sex
One’s perception of partner/s attitude
The partner/s actual attitude
Fear of intimacy
Physiological causes are very different to ORGANIC CAUSES. These can include:
Damage to nerves
Chronic health conditions: MS, diabetes, heart, high blood pressure, cholesterol
Smoking, alcohol, drugs
Surgery, radiation therapy
Pelvic /spinal injury
Physiological causes mean that erections are still possible. Organic causes can mean that erections are not possible (but this may change with treatment or over time).
If one looks at the following definition of erectile ‘disorder’ from the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), it suggests it is characterised by an inability to respond to or experience sexual pleasure:
“belonging to a group of sexual dysfunction disorders typically characterized by a clinically significant inability to respond sexually or to experience sexual pleasure.’
I would like to strongly emphasise that regardless of whether erection is present, IT IS STILL POSSIBLE to respond sexually and to experience sexual pleasure.
In fact, the penis is at its most sensitive between 30 - 70% engorged. Which translates to more pleasure being available to a semi-erect penis.
If you’re the person that is experiencing erection fluctuation, or a partner of someone who does, there may be patterns and expectations that may be getting in the way of your pleasure. Even inhibiting the erection more by worrying about it!
The best approach is to take the pressure off the erection. Divert your attention elsewhere:
Swap the focus of attention to your partner
Explore soft cock massage
Or oral (How great a soft cock feels in the mouth!!!)
Try dildos and strap-ons. And other toys
Maybe your butt would like attention?
Try all over sensation play with hands, breath, fabrics, feathers - or utensils from the kitchen!
Turn to kink to find other turn-ons
If you are physiologically still able to have erections, you may find it comes back into play. By continuing to remove any expectations you can enjoy tumescence as it comes and goes. It can elongate your pleasure processes and open you up to a wider range of experience.
If organic causes are at the root of erection difficulty, know that this is totally normal and inevitable over time anyway. Befriending your body exactly as it is will enable you to engage erotically, albeit in different ways. You may discover new things about yourself and what you find pleasurable.
I don’t want to diminish the joy that can be had in erections and the types of play they enable. There are various interventions that can help activate erections, such as prescription medicines, pumps and implants. I do advise seeking professional medical advice to determine if there are any underlying health issues and to discuss appropriate medical options.
Ultimately, however, how you choose to relate with your body and the way your partner/s respond are the most important factors. Share this article with your partner/s to establish mutual understanding on different pathways to a fulfilling, life-long sex life as bodies, relationships and circumstances evolve.
There may be some grief, confusion or shame adjusting to bodily changes. Notice the feelings when they come up. Allow those feelings to be there. If you feel comfortable enough with your partner and trust they can respond well, name them as you notice them. Acknowledging and normalising the experience will help you move through it and find new pathways to erotic pleasure.
Shame may in fact be the biggest barrier to enjoying sex without erections. There is so much hype around penises - how big they are, how hard they are, how long they can go… All that pressure can be overwhelming. It may also skew perceptions of what really is pleasurable. View this as an opportunity to explore and discover what else there is and what works for you.
If you’re curious about learning to relate with yourself and your partner/s in more positive ways, the communication skills required and some of the sexual techniques to expand your repertoire, I can help you. I can also advise you on other resources to support your journey. I offer a free 20 minute discovery call for you to get a sense of who I am, what I offer and for you to ask all the questions you may have to inspire your confidence in this process.
How confident and comfortable you are with your sexuality in all its variety is the key to ongoing sexual opportunity and wellbeing. Sometimes a little help can have a big impact.