Photo by Jose Duarte

My last blog post focused on male sexual dysfunction and the desire continuum.  In part II of this series we will be looking at issues that are related to male sexual arousal.

As the title implies, male sexual arousal is affected by bio-psycho-social elements and expectations.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), otherwise called male impotence, is defined by the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient for satisfying sexual activity including, but not limited to, vaginal penetration.

What constitutes “sufficient satisfying sexual activity” is clearly a subjective concept.  Thus, the first question we must ask ourselves is; what is satisfying sexual activity within our unique relationship? If there is frustration, which can lead to anger or sadness (hopelessness) and feelings of demasculinization, it is time to be proactive and seek help!

There are a number of steps that should be taken; the first would be to ensure that erection is physiologically possible.  This is pretty easy to determine; if a man has a morning erection (which is a physiological, NOT sexual, reaction) then the challenge is not mechanical.  However, if you notice a lack of morning erection seeking professional advice is warranted.  A trip to your local family doctor and possibly to a urologist can clarify a lot.  Among other things, the doctor will review any medications that you may be taking as there are some drugs that impair sexual arousal (including erection).  Different medical conditions including diabetes and neurological disorders to name a few, can impact erectile function as well.

If the mechanics do check out, then we must think in terms of the psycho-social factors associated with sexual arousal. What situations are “turn ons” or triggers for arousal and increase desire and even more importantly, what are the “turn offs”?  Is it a particular type of physical stimulation? Emotional intimacy? A particular setting? What helps or impedes sexual arousal?

Easier said than done… I know. Here are some ways that couples have worked and played their way to improving male arousal.  

  • Newlyweds may find ED knocking at their door out of the blue.  Despite sexual interest and excitement, the newness of  the actual permitted and real sexual possibility can be overwhelming, leading to what is known lovingly as “performance anxiety”.  This is a very natural reaction and should be viewed as such.  Nothing’s wrong at all; excitement is a wonderful thing, all you need to do is accept the excitement and lean into it.  Instead of  allowing anxiety to take over, relax into the excitement and newness of your relationship.  Your body will follow suit.
  • In long term relationships, it may be necessary to shake things up a bit in order to “re-awaken the beast”. Talk about what feels good physically with one another, what you may feel comfortable exploring in terms of new positions or couple’s accessories; see or Both of these websites provide modest and thorough explanations of a variety of devices that can enhance sexual relationships.  Ordering lubricants, sex toys etc. is possible and packages are delivered in unmarked boxes to ensure privacy and modesty.

For more information on this topic:

Come As You Are – by Emily Nagoski: Chapter 2 – The Dual Control Model

Passionate Marriage – by David Schnarch

Don’t allow issues to linger– talk to one another, don’t be shy and seek professional help.  You owe it to yourself and your partner.