How is cognitive behavioral therapy used in erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual disorders in the male population: it is estimated that it affects more or less 10% of men. And that percentage skyrockets to 50% if you look at middle-aged men.

However, it is usually a disorder that can be treated effectively. What happens is that due to the still taboo subject of sexuality, heightened by the stigma associated with men who don’t “give back” sexually, many men don’t even consider seeking professional help due to factors such as shame, attempts to avoid thinking about this problem, fear of endangering one’s manhood, etc.

In this article we will clarify a whole series of unknowns, myths and problematic ideas about erectile dysfunction, talk about how we can intervene with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

    Why go to psychotherapy to treat erectile dysfunction?

    The first hurdle that must be overcome to adequately treat the problem of erectile dysfunction is the widespread belief that it is primarily an organic problem that can only be solved by medicine. This idea makes many people afraid to start treatmentbecause in the absence of knowledge on a subject, it is easy to imagine the worst possible scenario, such as undergoing surgery and having to undergo painful operations.

    But the truth is that in most cases erectile dysfunction can be treated painlessly. And not only that; In many cases, the key lies in psychological intervention and not in invasive treatments that involve manipulation of specific organs and tissues of the body.

    Although many people do not know it, psychological factors are among the most common causes of erectile dysfunction, so by intervening from psychological therapy it is possible to overcome this type of disorder. For example, poor management of stress or anxiety, as well as low self-esteem (which causes feelings of embarrassment when undressing or having sex due to the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecy), fears or more sex-related phobias, etc.

    Yes yes it may be necessary to combine visits to the psychologist with the follow-up of medical treatment. And it is that the situations in which the disorder is caused by an injury or a dysfunction of an organ are relatively infrequent; If there are organic factors that contribute to the persistence of erectile dysfunction in the person’s daily life, these are usually related to the blood supply and / or the flow of hormones through it, so normally the use of certain pills is the main way of medical treatment, I operations.

    And other means of improving the patient’s situation are a mixture of psychological and organic processes; for example, the application of healthier lifestyles, such as quitting smoking (tobacco contributes to erectile dysfunction), exercising, having a balanced diet, etc. In short, strategies where the behavioral and the organic go hand in hand to reduce the chances of having problems obtaining an erection and being able to maintain it.

    This is why erectile dysfunction is a problem it can be treated from sexology and/or psychotherapy in general, although in some cases it is also recommended to combine this route and intervention with biomedical strategies (usually the use of certain prescription drugs). In some cases, once you have gone through the first stages of psychotherapy, the use of medication may cease.

      Application of cognitive behavioral therapy in patients with erectile dysfunction

      Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which psychologists have the dual mission of help patients change their beliefs and way of thinking, on the one hand, and their routines and habits towards the environment and others, on the other hand.

      That is to say, it intervenes both in cognitions (internal psychological processes based on abstract thought) and behaviors, actions observable by third parties. Through this double action, the two dimensions of the person’s life, subjective and objective, mutually reinforce each other to consolidate lifestyle changes. And in this case, like enjoy sex and reach your full potential without succumbing to unfounded fears, stress or anxiety attacks, limiting beliefsetc

      So, the main ways that cognitive behavioral therapy helps with erectile dysfunction are as follows.

      • It helps the patient to manage anxiety in key moments through relaxation techniques

      • It strengthens self-esteem through a cognitive restructuring applied to the concept of Self.

      • Practice sex play strategies that aren’t based on immediacy and allow you to relax more.

      • It offers fear management strategies through techniques such as controlled exposure.

      • Related article: “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: What is it and on what principles is it based?”

      Do you want to start a therapy process?

      If you are interested in having psychotherapeutic assistance, please contact me.

      Soy Diego Sebastian Rojo, a psychologist specializing in clinical psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy with over a decade of experience in the field. I accompany people who need to follow a process of psychotherapy individually or as part of couple therapy. I can help you in person or through online video call therapy format.

      Bibliographic references

      • Gaither, TW (2017). The natural history of erectile dysfunction after prostate radiotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
      • Gökçe, M.İ.; Yaman, Ö. (2017). Erectile dysfunction in the elderly man. Turkish Journal of Urology, 43(3): pp. 247 – 251.
      • Landripet, I.; Stulhofer, A. (2015). Is Pornography Use Associated with Sexual Difficulties and Dysfunctions in Young Heterosexual Men?. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(5): pp. 1136 – 1139.
      • Online Valiquette, L. (2003). A historical review of erectile dysfunction. The Canadian Journal of Urology. 10 (Supp 1): 7–11.

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