Friday, February 12, 2010

As Valentine's Day approaches there will be all kinds of excitement. There's the hope and anticipation of receiving a card, or gift, from someone you have your eye on. Then there's the buzz of getting a card when you've no idea who it could be from, but the fact you've received it means there's someone out there who has taken a shine to you. And of course, for those who are already ready in established relationships then it's always nice to get a reminder of your partner's feelings for you.

It's not all hearts and flowers though. A card from an unknown admirer can upset an existing relationship – so it's best to enjoy the thrill of receiving a card like this privately. Not receiving a card when you've been dreaming of this can leave a person deflated. For some Valentine's Day and the build-up can re-open emotional wounds, particularly if the person has lost their loved one.

It seems to me that there's a growing pressure around Valentine's Day to tick all the boxes. I remember when a card with 'SWALK' written on the envelope was all that was needed to set hearts pounding. Now it seems gifts, meals out, weekends away, and so on are the norm. It's not for me to say whether this is right or not but something I do know is that at this time of year in particular men feel under pressure to perform – and I'm not talking about serenading their loved one with a guitar or violin. I'm talking about 'in the bedroom', 'upstairs', 'on Sunday morning'.

I know this because I talk to lots of men through my radio spot who are 'having trouble in the bedroom department'. This is also backed up by the large number of emails I receive on the subject.

It's not only the impact on pleasure and enjoyment from sex. Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, affects relationships too as one emailer explained, 'I'm just over 5ft tall and am classed as obese on the BMI scale. I've been with my wife for over a year now and our sex life has gone down the drain, I find it hard to perform most of the time and can certainly not reach the places I used too. It is because of this I fear my marriage may be about to go plop'. Being overweight detrimentally affects erections, it also means a man is more likely to tire more quickly during sex. In this situation losing some weight and getting back to a healthy weight can help erections return, and potentially save a marriage.

Most men will experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their life. Usually it's a one-off experience or short-term but for many it's a long-term problem where erections don't last long enough to reach orgasm, or don't happen at all. In around 80% of cases this is down to a physical problem where not enough blood is getting to the penis. High blood pressure and diabetes are the commonest underlying reasons, which is why men are encouraged to get tested for these.

Cutting back on alcohol, not smoking cigarettes and not using recreational drugs, regular exercise and keeping stress under control all help to prevent erection problems. Of course, we are fortunate to have tablet medication to help men overcome erection difficulties – always get these from a reputable source, for example your own doctor.

One emailer said, 'I can get an erection but I cannot ejaculate during intercourse only through masturbation, yet another embarrassing problem'. This specific complaint is very common amongst men and indicates that mechanically the equipment is working. However, something is getting in the way during sex and there are a number of possible reasons for this. In longer term relationships sometimes sex becomes routine or boring making it harder to be stimulated. People may feel they are just going through the motions. When this is the case then varying the time, place, and positions can help, as can experimenting with fantasy-play or sex toys.

Stress often gets in the way. It's difficult to relax and enjoy sex if your mind is actually worrying about work. Another scenario is if a couple is trying for a baby but the man isn't sure he's ready, or wants, to become a Dad. When a couple are committed to trying to get pregnant but it's just not happening sex may become a 'baby-making function', which can detrimentally affect enthusiasm, and performance. Nowadays tiredness is a common reason as sex needs energy and if a person is shattered then they are likely to run out of steam. And no-one needs reminding how too much alcohol can cause 'brewers droop'.

I know it takes a lot of courage but the first step in overcoming erection difficulties is to talk about the problem. Doing this with your partner often solves the problem as all too often suspicions have arisen and got in the way. The partner with erectile dysfunction avoids any intimate situation for fear he may not be able to perform and satisfy his partner. Consequently the other partner feels they are no longer attractive and can no longer arouse him, and fears he must be having sex elsewhere. If someone doesn't feel ready or comfortable talking with their partner, then their GP will be all too ready to listen, and help.

Valentine's Day is about expressions of love, most commonly through words. So although having a problem with erections may be causing all sorts of stress and anxiety, made worse by the time of year and this day of love, Cupid's arrow could come in handy if someone uses words to explain the problem because in doing so they'll also be expressing their love.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this good explanation of the common problem.
    Lack of imagination in the bedroom can't be minimized though, some porn movies help too.