An Emotional Side of Erectile Dysfunction
Steve, 68, had just retired. It had been his second attempt at retiring. The first was when he was 65, but his wife was still working, so he found it difficult to adjust to retired life. When his wife retired 3 years later, Steve thought he would be just fine.
But then he had difficulty maintaining an erection. His doctor diagnosed him with erectile dysfunction with no known cause. He was given no medical treatment.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), also called impotence, is a medical diagnosis for any condition where the man is unable to obtain or maintain an erection. WebMD estimated that 18 million U.S. men are affected each year. It is more common in older men but is now being seen in men as young as teenagers. The causes are usually medical drugs, alcohol usage, fatigue or a hormonal imbalance or heart condition. There are medical drugs and prosthetics to assist the man. In Steve’s case, he refused both because he didn’t like taking medical drugs and didn’t want surgery.
“It was bound to happen at my age,” he said during his initial office visit. “But if there is anything you can do I’d be most grateful.”
We proceeded to discuss all the intricacies of his sexuality. He would obtain a strong erection, but about half-way though intercourse he would lose the firmness and would be unable to become erect again. He usually awoke with the erection and tried sex in the morning; they didn’t try any other time of day. He didn’t masturbate. He and his wife tried different positions but the result was the same.
“My wife is okay with it, but I’m not,” he said with embarrassment. He stated his wife didn’t desire sex, so Steve felt his wife didn’t care if he was having difficulty. Steve saw it as a flaw in his manhood.
When did it all start? Right after he retired.
The suddenness of the onset of the ED and his retiring had to be more than coincidence. He was able to have a normal erection before then, so his retiring had to be a factor.
Steve had worked for the city doing inspections at restaurants for most of his adult life. He worked 40 hours per week. When asked to describe his work day, he sat higher in his chair and spoke with pride. He stated he would miss the social interaction and knowing he did a good job at work.
He also stated he would grow old now and have “old age” problems like a heart attack. He felt any activity would cause a heart attack. He also stated he felt he was “put out to pasture” as he was no longer useful.
“Being useful” was mentioned a lot during the interview. This means it is important to the problem Steve was having.
Since retiring, he has been spending more time working with farm animals (they had a hobby farm) and he has been taking a painting class. His wife has been catching up on her reading; she wasn’t yet “adjusting to being retired”. On occasion they went out to eat, but for the most part they stayed at home. No vacations or travel was planned.
Steve wondered if his wife’s disinterest in sex might’ve been the reason for the ED, but when we discussed it, that really hadn’t changed since they were married.
When looking at a new condition, you need to look at what has changed, not what has been the same for a long time. Steve’s wife’s disinterest in sex was not new. What was new was the retirement.
The common theme between intercourse and work is performance. Loss of work means loss of performance…and the ability to perform sexually in Steve’s case. He was no longer useful at a job, something he felt was a “man’s job”. Part of being a man was being able to get an erection.
I recommended the remedy Argentum nitricum. A common key to metal remedies is the person believing there is a fault within themselves, a weakness. Key features for Argentum nitricum:
Sudden laxness of penis
Frequent urination (a concomitant)
Anxiety about his heart, that he would have a heart attack
Anxiety related to performance
Steve was reluctant to think there was an emotional or mental reason behind the ED. Most people do not like to believe something emotional or mental can be causing any physical problem they might have. Our society tends to push for physical reasons to be the cause of physical problems, and emotional reasons to only affect behavior.
I asked Steve to try the remedy anyway and to let me know if it didn’t work.
He tried the remedy and found it helped. When he stopped taking it; his problem returned. Still, Steve didn’t want to think his ED had anything to do with “performance”.
About 3 months later Steve took on a summer job. His ED was no longer an issue. When the job was done in the fall, the ED returned. Steve now realized there was a connection.
Steve continued to take the Argentum nitricum as needed, but once he had made the connection between performance and his ED, he was able to overcome a lot of the mental impact from his not working. After a year of using the homeopathic remedy 2-3 times, Steve stated he no longer has problems maintaining an erection.
Disclaimer: The information provided by Dr. Ronda Behnke is for educational purposes only. It is important that you not make health decisions or stop any medication without first consulting your personal physician or health care provider.