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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Don't Be Embarrassed About E.D.

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I don't know if I'm an exception, but I have found that E.D. [erectile dysfunction] is actually a turn-on for women. As I have gotten older, E.D. has become an issue. Most of the time medication such as Viagra or Cialis has worked. But it hasn't always.

Sometimes sex is spontaneous, and I don't know it's about to happen. Then it does and I can't perform (even with the old standby—oral sex). At first I got depressed and embarrassed. Then after this happened with seven or eight women, I realized that every one of them acted like it was no problem and came back for more. Sooner or later, I was able to relax and complete the act like a champ. But I was just amazed at the fact that I got more second dates from women when I had E.D. than with the ones when I didn't. This has really boosted my confidence. I no longer have any anxiety over whether or not I will get an erection. Great if I do, great if I don't.


Thanks for sharing your experience. As I wrote in my recent column about sex and disability, our society's typical phallocentric view of sex—that “real sex” is limited to a hard penis entering an orifice of some kind—is very limiting. Penises are great. But everyone with a penis has problems getting an erection at least sometimes, whether that's due to age, illness, medication, physical disabilities, alcohol use, anxiety or anything else. Like many of our other bodily functions, the penis is not under our direct control.

When we define sex in a way that makes a hard penis necessary for it to happen, we put an enormous amount of pressure on the person that penis is attached to. As you mention, this can lead to anxiety, depression and embarrassment, which can create a vicious cycle of E.D. or negatively affect a person's sexual relationships.

I also wrote recently about the fact that many women believe that their greatest sexual satisfaction should come from penile penetration of the vagina, when in fact most women have orgasms when the clitoris is stimulated (read that column here). Phallocentric beliefs about sex affect all genders negatively.

If we broadly defined sex to include anything that you or your partners find erotic and pleasurable, we would reduce unnecessary mental distress, increase pleasure (especially for clitoris-havers!) and greatly expand our sexual repertoires. We might even reduce sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

For another recent column on erectile dysfunction (which includes links to three previous ones on the topic—obviously something that people ask about a lot!), click here.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.


Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.