Learn how mindfulness meditation can help treat erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety
Meditation is a spiritual technique that is originally drawn from ancient Buddhist traditions. In recent decades leading psychologists have studied this technique and found out that it is incredibly powerful when used as a therapeutic tool.
Meditation is helpful in developing a human quality called “mindfulness”. Developing higher levels of mindfulness is helpful in treating psychological erectile dysfunction, sexual performance anxiety and low libido as well as with stress reduction and has many other health benefits.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present. When you are mindful, you don’t analyze why you feel the way you feel, and you don’t get lost or carried away by thoughts (good or bad). You just experience the present moment, without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
Mindfulness is a trait that you already possess, you just have to learn how to “access it”. We can improve mindfulness by practicing meditation.
According to Aoife Drury, an accredited psychosexual therapist, improving your mindfulness skills can help with erectile dysfunction. “There’s a growing number of clinical trials that have documented the significant benefit of mindfulness with regards to erectile dysfunction.
Mindfulness can assist those suffering from erectile issues that may be amplified by performance or sexual anxiety. In one study they found that mindfulness can decrease the activity of the amygdala, the part that keeps us in anxiety and stressed. Instead, mindfulness can help improve arousal and assist with an increase of sexual connection with self.”
Why does being unmindful can lead to erectile dysfunction?
Having low levels of mindfulness can affect the body in two ways, both of which can lead to erectile dysfunction: sexual performance anxiety and stress.
Sexual performance anxiety
When we become anxious during sex, our body triggers the “fight or flight” response. When this happens,
it becomes almost impossible to have an erection. But why does this happen? According to Gigi Engle, author and certified sex educator, “When it comes to sexual response, the nervous system is one of the key players. We need to be in a state of ‘rest and digest’ in order to experience the full breadth of our erotic potential.
Fear and anxiety negatively impact the nervous system, driving it out of this ‘rest state’ and into ‘fight or flight.’ When we are in that mode, it becomes impossible to activate our sense of sexuality and feelings of erotic desire. When we’re frightened, the brain tells the body ‘It is NOT sex time!’ We are ‘IN DANGER!’ The body then stops the sexual arousal process.”
When the “fight or flight” response is triggered, the body draws away blood from unessential organs (such as the penis) towards organs that are absolutely necessary for your immediate survival.
When blood is drawn away from the penis, having an erection becomes impossible and you experience erectile dysfunction. This can happen before penetration or even in the middle of sex.
The biggest problem with performance anxiety is the “performance anxiety negative feedback loop” (also known as the “performance anxiety cycle” or the “performance anxiety domino effect”).
This happens when a man experiences one case of erectile dysfunction, and then the next time he comes to have sex, he is so preoccupied with negative anxiety-provoking thoughts that he experiences erectile dysfunction again. After that the performance anxiety negative feedback loop is formed.
Stress and not being in the present moment
To experience arousal, we have to be present. And arousal is the first step on the way to an erection. Without arousal there is no erection, even if you take Viagra or Cialis.
But why does stress affect arousal? Psychosexual therapist, Aoife Drury explains “Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on our hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol), alongside this they can lead us to a place of self-judgment, criticism, and stop us from being present. In turn, this can result in the struggle to become aroused and impact the ability to get and maintain erections.
When we are distracted by our thoughts, or preoccupied with our emotions, we can find ourselves unable to connect sexually which in turn can perpetuate distress.”
Nowadays, with the internet, our smartphones, emails, and social media it’s so hard to stay focused and experience the present moment. We get constantly bombarded with distractions.
These constant distractions lead to stress, and when we are stressed, we can’t get aroused. Think about it, if when you’re in bed with your partner and your mind is distracted and stressed about work, your chores or anything else, there is no room for arousal to happen.
Desire and arousal are processes that happen automatically in response to sexual stimuli. Lack of attention and distraction block these processes from happening.
Can meditation cure erectile dysfunction?
Yes! Mindfulness meditation can cure erectile dysfunction which is caused by psychological reasons such as sexual performance anxiety or stress.
With mindfulness meditation you practice being aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the present moment, without interpretation or judgment. You’re practicing focusing your attention on the ‘here and now’.
The origin of stress and anxiety is worrying about a future event or overthinking about something that happened in the past. These kinds of worries can lead to trouble getting or maintaining your erection.
The mind can’t be at two different time frames at once. When you are in the present moment, there is no room for negative, stressful, anxiety provoking thoughts to arise, which dramatically reduces the chances of erectile dysfunction to occur. When stress and anxiety go away, your erection returns.
Richard Munn, a psychotherapist, and mindfulness expert further explains that “mindfulness meditation sessions can assist by teaching men how to return their attention to the direct sensations, which are often avoided in the case of ED. People struggling with ED often attempt to distract themselves from their physical sensations under the belief that doing so will help them keep their erection or delay orgasm, however, it typically does the opposite.
Bringing attention back to physical sensations allows the men to reconnect with their own arousal process, which is needed for an erection, and modulate sensation in order to prolong the ‘plateau’ stage of arousal prior to ejaculation.”
Simple, right? Ultimately, being mindful sounds straightforward. However, it can be a tricky skill to learn at first. Why? This is because our brains are used to going about their business in auto-pilot mode.
With mindfulness meditation, we practice switching our brains into a mindful mode of awareness and acceptance of the present moment. With practice it becomes easier to be mindful in your daily life and also during sex.
How can you start practicing mindfulness meditation for erectile dysfunction?
The easiest way to begin is with guided meditation. This can be done using meditation apps like Headspace, or in face-to-face therapy sessions with a therapist or instructor.
It is better to find a practice that includes a guided meditation for erectile dysfunction specifically. Having the right context when you practice can help.
There are many different mindfulness exercises which can help with erectile dysfunction, such as body scans, visualization exercises, breathing exercises, informal mindfulness practices and more.
A study published in 2018 by Dr. Lori Broto showed that practicing mindfulness helped 9 out of 10 men with psychological erectile dysfunction regain the ability to get and maintain an erection after 4 weeks of practice.
Mindfulness meditation is research proven method for treating psychological erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety.
It’s easy to learn and practice and anyone can do it. All it takes is practicing for about 10-20 minutes a day for 4 to 8 weeks.
Not only it can help with overcoming erectile dysfunction, but it also has many other great benefits such as reducing stress levels, improving focus and attention, increasing relationship satisfaction and more.