Men of all ages tell me that their general wellbeing and confidence is intimately linked to their sexual wellbeing, confidence and “performance” which usually means that they feel confident to satisfy their partner romantically and sexually and comfortable with their own sexual and gender identity. When things are going well, a satisfying sex life is taken for granted as part of life. But when it’s not going well, it can have a serious impact on a man’s wellbeing and sense of himself, as well as on his relationships.
Because these are very personal feelings, they are rarely discussed. If they were more openly discussed, men would hear how common difficulties with sex are. Yet research shows that if a man tries to discuss his concerns about “problems in the bedroom” – even with his GP – he is often fobbed off. Medical personnel themselves are often uncomfortable discussing sexual issues.
A well-functioning male sex life is a mixture of biological/physical functioning, plus mental wellbeing plus relationship connections. Sex therapists call it the “bio-psycho-social model”. (And no, “psycho” is not shorthand for “crazy”!)
Talking to Susie, as a well-qualified sex therapist, can be the first step to sorting out which component of the model may be the problem.
Let’s look at how this works.
For example, the “bio”(logical) bit. The penis is very sensitive to changes in health status so erection or ejaculation difficulties may be the very early warning signs of serious illnesses such as diabetes or cardio-vascular disease. A trip to the doctor for a full health check-up might be warranted, plus some work on how to deal effectively with the health challenges, relationship impacts and physical changes.
Or, the “psycho”(logical) bit: sometimes erection difficulties start after a negative sexual experience. Working out the triggers and then putting the story into perspective will often quickly resolve the situation.
Or the “social” bit: it’s important to feel comfortable with one’s sexual orientation and gender identity and how you fit within society. Until you feel comfortable with who you are, it’s unlikely you will feel entirely comfortable with others. And often interpersonal difficulties with an important sexual relationship affect libido and arousal.
Very often, any particular problem turns out to be a bit of all three.
If good sexual functioning is a confidence booster for the average man, then worries in that department are a real “downer”. Men may blame themselves or their partners, become worried, angry, or depressed, withdraw into themselves and generally feel much worse about themselves, their relationships and their lives. Their partners often blame themselves for no longer being attractive or they worry about an affair. If the man is in the dating scene, he may lose confidence in his ability to “take it further” after the first few dates and disappear, leaving the potential partner bewildered. So often men want to get it right, do it right and be seen to be competent and manly in their own eyes and those of their partners. Sometimes, they put too much pressure on themselves, with sometimes drastic consequences for their sex lives and their general confidence. It is vital to deal with any of these issues quickly and positively.
Other very common men's sexual health issues include
- Low libido, loss of libido, mismatched libido
- Erectile dysfunction, erection problems, “impotence”
- Ejaculation problems including premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, no ejaculation (anejaculation) or dry orgasm, painful ejaculation
- Performance anxiety and social/sexual shyness, sexual aversion, asexuality
- Aftermath of sexual assault and abuse
- “first night blues”, performance anxiety
- Managing health issues such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis, injuries, and mental health, sexually transmitted diseases, Klinefelter Syndrome, fertility and IVF problems
As an experienced sex and relationship therapist, please feel free to contact me to work on your personal journey to better “bio-psycho-social” wellbeing.