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OCD and Sexual and Erectile Dysfunction: What You Should Know

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a physical health condition that affects a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection during sex and may or may not be accompanied by decreased sexual desire. Yes, ED presents with physical symptoms and can be linked to physiological causes (including heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, etc.), but it also may be the result of a mental health condition. 

Known mental health conditions linked to ED include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

This article will focus on the connections between OCD and erectile dysfunction, covering how OCD can contribute to sexual performance issues in the bedroom, how professionals can help men with OCD to improve their sexual performance, and what medications may be effective.

What is OCD?

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OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by two main, uncontrolled habits: reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and reoccurring behaviors (compulsions). People living with OCD are driven by constant urges to repeatedly act on their obsessions and/or compulsions. An estimated 2.5 out of every 100 adults in the United States lives with OCD.

Common obsessions include:

  • Excessive fear of germs or contamination
  • Feelings of sex being taboo or shameful
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or toward oneself
  • Insisting on things being symmetrical or in a perfect order
  • Even feelings of disgust when thinking about having sexual intercourse

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

It is not difficult to see the issues the aforementioned obsessions and compulsions may have on a person’s sex life.

OCD and Sexual Dysfunction: What Do You Need to Know?

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In a Tehran-based study of married couples diagnosed with OCD, researchers found that a significant number also experienced depression, which could affect sexual desire in their relationships. Ultimately, the researchers recommend that healthcare providers assess for sexual dysfunction when working with patients living with OCD.

So, moving past the link between OCD and sexual dysfunction, what can be done about it?

Recommendations include:

  • Talking to your partner about your OCD and sexual dysfunction/ED
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms
  • Learn what medications and strategies may be effective in improving sexual function (for example, medications like Viagra, practices like mindfulness)

If OCD is accompanied by anxiety or depression, a healthcare professional may prescribe common antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft.  However, one side effect of these anti-depressants can include a decrease in sexual desire. If that is the case, healthcare providers may also prescribe an erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra to counteract this side effect of antidepressants.

Research shows that, for men taking antidepressants, adding in an ED med like Viagra is effective in decreasing sexual dysfunction, enhancing sexual desire, and increasing orgasm intensity.  If you’re struggling with OCD and sexual dysfunction, talk to your doctor to see if Viagra is appropriate for you. And if you’re interested in the convenience and discretion of ordering ED medications online, we invite you to visit the eDrugstore Erectile Dysfunction page. 

Kwynn holds a Master of Public Health and is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work. Her research examines the intersections of health, technology, and gender-based violence.