DEAR MRS SALISBURY…
Your recent advice about erectile dysfunction was helpful. I am a 70-year-old single widower who now finds he has the same problem. How do I address it if I should want to contemplate entering into another relationship in the future?
I have found that, without aggressive direct stimulation,
I cannot get or hold an erection and at best it is soft when achieved. I am not a smoker, drink only occasionally, and have no health problems other than arthritis, for which I take Voltaren. I have tried Viagra which, even at the higher dose, appears to have no effect. I have found, however, that on occasion I will wake in the morning with an erection.
This condition is inhibiting me even considering the possibility of any future serious relationships.
Viagra is not an aphrodisiac. You need to be in the mood for sex, so your nerves are giving the message for the blood to flow into the genitals before you will get any effect of it. I’m not sure how long ago you were widowed, but grief can certainly stand in the way of arousal and some find their loyalties to a lost loved one inhibit their ability to respond to their head’s decision that they want a new partner or casual lover.
Beyond those factors, any time you’ve tried to get an erection, not succeeded then got into worrying or feeling glum about what this means for a sexless or lonely future results in a load of pressure or anxiety that penises tend not to respond well to. So, getting your head and your heart ready to be a lover again is where I’d encourage you to focus first. Then remind yourself that a new lover would bring lightning strikes of arousal.
You have fortunately taken good care of your health and your morning erection shows the equipment is still functional. Be gentle with yourself, acknowledging that of course you will be anxious. Be honest with her about any fears you have at the time and you will be creating emotional intimacy to accompany the sex. Remember too that you don’t need to have an erection to be a glorious lover; there are countless ways couples can pleasure each other without intercourse.
Robyn Salisbury is a clinical psychologist.
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