Man holding his hand on his head.

Sexual Shame Needn’t Be A ‘Side Effect’ of Erectile Dysfunction

It says a lot about society when one of the most shameful things a man can experience is to have his sexual abilities questioned. 

A man’s sexual organs are referred to as his manhood, after all, and no one wants that associated with being dysfunctional. Struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED) is tough on its own, but when men are made to feel less than or inadequate because of it, their sexual shame abounds. This shame can be so severe that men have even lashed out and committed murder after being mocked for their condition. Now, murder is an absolutely inappropriate response to being embarrassed, but it illustrates how seriously men take their sexual functioning.

This article will set the facts straight on what causes ED (think circulation issues rather than inadequate manhood), why sexual shame doesn’t need to be a ‘side effect’ of erectile dysfunction, and ways to overcome sexual shame.

Actual Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

A man’s inability to get or keep an erection can be caused by a number of factors, from the physical to the behavioral or even psychological, none of which are anything to be ashamed of. Erectile functioning is actually a complex process that, according to the Mayo Clinic, involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. In many cases, ED is attributed to issues with circulation, involving inadequate blood flow to the penis.

How Shame Affects Quality of Life

Personal and intimate connections with others, including sexual connections, are critical to a happy, healthy life, but sexual shame threatens these relationships. Fortunately, once the cause is known, there are several options available to treat ED. Men may not realize this, however, choosing instead to give up sex. As expected, this can often affect a man’s intimate relationships. Some men even avoid telling their partner about their ED and choose instead to suffer in silence.

Shedding the Shame of Erectile Dysfunction

Couple sitting on a couple drinking coffee and talking.

Erectile dysfunction is a very personal issue that can leave men feeling ashamed and vulnerable, hurting their self-esteem and their relationships with others. To overcome this shame, there are actions men can take.

Overcoming ED-related Shame:

  • Recognize that the media is lying to you: Men in blockbuster movies are always able to get an erection and deliver mega-satisfying sexual performances, which communicates to regular men that this is how they should be able to perform every time, as if on cue. Stop believing the ED myths and start seeking out support.
  • Stop denying it: As mentioned above, once the cause of ED is known, men can seek out treatments to cure it. However, the first step in fixing the issue is to admit there is one, which can be difficult to do. Know that ED doesn’t have anything to do with your worth as a man and that there is likely a treatable, biological cause behind it.
  • Talk about it: Whether with your doctor, your intimate partner, or a therapist dedicated to treating sexual concerns, talking about it will generate support so you don’t have to feel isolated.

Man seeking help from a medical physician.

Once you’ve acknowledged that you’re experiencing ED, you can start taking steps to treat it. Just like you’d see a doctor if you had the flu, experiencing ED is no different. One of the first steps is to talk with a doctor to determine what factor(s) may be affecting your sexual functioning. If the cause is related to circulation, your doctor may prescribe you a medication to treat ED, like Viagra.

If going to see a doctor in-person is too intimidating or embarrassing, consider finding a doctor through a vetted online platform like eDrugstore, where doctors can consult with you about your condition and prescribe medications like Viagra. It’s time to de-stigmatize ED and advocate for support of men suffering from ED so they get the medical assistance they need to start living a more satisfying life.

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.