Erectile Dysfunction When Trying To Conceive

A lot of fertility sites concentrate on all kinds of infertility problems but what frequently seems to be avoided is the almost taboo subject of erectile dysfunction.

What is it?

Erectile dysfunction is an inability to get or maintain an erection. It is also known as male impotence, a relatively serious problem if you are trying to get pregnant. Perhaps this subject is pushed to the back burner due to its embarrassing nature. For most men, their sexual organ is viewed as a symbol of their strength, masculinity and virility. Thus the male ego finds it a difficult subject to discuss.

Is it Common?

You may find it surprising to know that approximately 1 in every 10 men suffers from erectile dysfunction. Amongst men with diabetes that percentage rockets to 50%. The statistics worsen with age with men over 65 the most likely to have this problem. Unfortunately for some, this condition appears to be becoming more common.

What Causes It?

Several possible causes are:-

  • Clogged arteries
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Damaged nerves (such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and stroke)
  • Low levels of testosterone
  • Psychological problems (such as anxiety, stress, depression)
  • Medication (such as alcohol, narcotics, blood pressure medication and sedatives)
  • Surgery (prostate removal and pelvic surgery)

How It Is Treated

Treatment varies depending upon how bad the problem is. In many cases, a few lifestyle changes can lead to a full recovery. Sometimes more mechanic methods are necessary. Here a few of the treatment methods:-

  • Surgical implants. There are several different variations upon the same theme. One of the most common types is inflatable implants that can be pumped up upon demand by squeezing a pump hidden inside the scrotum. Implants are usually completely unseen and inconspicuous.
  • Vacuum pump. The male member is placed in a plastic tube. The air inside is pumped out using a small squeezable pump. The suction is used to increase flow to the blood vessels in the penis, thus engorging it. Then a constriction device (not unlike a rubber ring) is placed over the base of the penis to help hold this pressure and thus maintain an erection. For safety reasons, the rubber ring must be removed within thirty minutes.
  • Oral medications (including Viagra (Sildenafil), Cialis (Tadalafil), Levitra (Vardenafil)). These medications are called PDE-5 inhibitors. Consult a qualified doctor before taking these medications as they can be lethal when taken with certain other medications or medical conditions. Only one tablet should be taken in any 24hr period.
  • Injected medication. Alprostadil known as EDEX and Caverject can be injected directly into the penis, this causes the blood vessels to dilate. Erection usually comes along about 10-15 minutes later and will usually last for the next 45-60 minutes. Misapplication or adverse reaction to this medication can be rather painful and usually leads to the embarrassing side-effect of priapism (an erection that lasts for a few hours or more, which can lead to tissue damage).
  • Suppository (a different method of applying alprostadil as opposed to injection). The tiny suppository is inserted deeply into the urethra. Over the next 10-15 minutes, it then dissolves into the surrounding tissue causing a localized dilation of the penile blood vessels.
  • Lifestyle changes (more about this later on).
  • Psychological changes (more about this later on too).
  • Hypnotherapy. It is worth noting that impotence has been successfully treated using hypnotherapy in cases where the cause has been due to psychological factors such as stress, performance anxiety etc.

What Lifestyle Changes?

It is usually recommended that most patients try to make lifestyle changes before using medication or surgery. Remember; Healthy parents make healthy babies! The following changes are frequently advised:-

  • Weight loss. Patients that are overweight should try to reach their target BMI.
  • Stop Smoking. Smoking increases your odds of impotence by 50%!
  • Cut down on the booze. Better still cut it out altogether, at least until you have successfully conceived.
  • Don’t do illegal drugs. Taking any illegal drugs including so-called soft drugs should be stopped completely.
  • Regular exercise. Exercising regularly will help stabilize one’s metabolism and assist any effort to reduce MBI.
  • Reduce stress. This is one of the most important lifestyle changes (see section below dedicated to psychological changes).

Psychological Changes For Him

In 25% of men with erectile dysfunction, medications are ineffectual. In these cases, the cause is often psychological. Stress, depression, emotional trauma and feelings of low self-worth are often the cause of impotence. If you are a male sufferer of this condition try to avoid thinking of yourself negatively. You are still a strong and virile man, your body is just in need of a little time to stabilize itself. Look at it like this; Every athlete needs a breather sometimes. They may be at the peak of fitness, but they still need a rest after a trying event. No-one can run forever. Your body is merely having a rest while it prepares itself for the next event. Give yourself a little time to regroup, take care to prepare your body and mind and revitalize it just like an athlete. Tell yourself that once you have done this you will be back on top form again, ready to go. Don’t put yourself under the pressure of a time limit, just let nature follow its course.

An excellent way to help change your thought process is daily meditation, ideally anchored by a form of chi kung (qigong). It only takes about 20-30 minutes per day to make a huge change and it does not even wear you out! But isn’t yoga and tai chi a load of namby-pamby nonsense? No, absolutely not. Many forms of chi kung have been carefully developed over thousands of years by experts. Once you get past your own preconceptions you will find it to be invigorating, calming, enjoyable and much less effort than a game of squash. Most guys don’t think Jackie Chan or Jet Li are sissies, yet they use chi kung as part of their kung fu training! Chi kung has a well-proven track record of helping with virility. An expert chi kung master will understand the need to treat their client’s confidentiality in much the same way as a doctor and will be used to helping patients with numerous conditions. It is important to remember that these are trained health professionals and can usually help you more than your local doctor.

As you meditate, focus upon strength, peaceful tranquillity and connecting with nature. Imagine energy filling you with radiant light and connecting you to the earth and the universe. All creation is energy. Scientists say that every part of us made of different forms of energy. Every cell, neutron, proton, electron, every thought and every impulse is energy. This energy is connected to the surrounding universe. Meditating on this will help to dissipate your stress and help your mind and body as a whole, not just your sexual potency.

Share with your partner

Calmly share your fears with your partner. Don’t attach blame to either party. There is no shame in what you are going through. It does not mean that you are less of a man because of your problem. If you are finding sex boring or monotonous and find it sometimes a little difficult to maintain an erection, then spice it up a bit. Try new positions. Don’t try to have sex too often, it can be exhausting and counterproductive. Go at your own pace.

If you are finding it difficult to get an erection, think about what normally gets you aroused (maybe the sight of your partner as she gets undressed at the end of the day, maybe something else). Try reading an explicit novel or collection of sexy short stories. Watch a blue movie with your partner. Unless it particularly turns you on, don’t think of sex as “trying to get pregnant”. This reduces it to a chore, rather than a passionate pleasure.

What can a woman do to help her partner?

The following information is given in the spirit of friendship and advice. Please don’t take it as being rude or judgmental. This information is explicit but general advice for helping men with erectile dysfunction. You may have to pick and choose or adapt these suggestions to fit your particular situation and needs.

  • Give your man lots of love, kindness and understanding.
  • Make him feel like a big strong man and show him and tell him that you respect him and are proud to be his wife. Male potency is strongly affected by ego, so any help you can give him to boost his self-esteem is a good thing. Don’t tell him that you are trying to boost his ego, because that would undermine your efforts.
  • Don’t put him under pressure to “perform”. Performance anxiety is a big downer for men. Whether you or he have previously expressed an interest in it or not, avoid suggesting anything like a threesome. Even if you are normally that sexually liberal, it would almost certainly put him under pressure to perform. Not only would it be completely counter-productive it may also deeply humiliate him and leave him emotionally scarred. The same applies to use a video camera in the bedroom. Use little enticements not big.
  • Make sex fun. I don’t know how adventurous your tastes in the bedroom are, but try to entice one another. Push the envelope a little. Use role play or bedroom toys. Use foreplay. Try new sexual positions, if you are able to get that far. Dress up for the occasion. An example:-
    To make sex fun, see if he would like you to give him oral sex (this would help him to disassociate sex with procreation and thus help remove the pressure to conceive). If it works, it will help him to feel more virile. Maybe at a future time, you could try vaginal instead of oral penetration when his ego and body is ready.
  • Dress up. Never forget that you are a beautiful woman (yes even with love handles or swollen ankles) and your husband no doubt finds you attractive, especially if he sees you in sexy lingerie!
  • Less is more. Depending upon your man’s tastes, you may wish to try waxing your intimate areas, skip wearing undies one day or walk around the house nude to pleasantly surprise him. Lots of fellas like the thought of their woman being a little bit naughty especially for them. Whisper in his ear and tell him you’re not wearing any panties under your dress. Little things like that might just stoke his fire and help him to feel desirable, wanted and needed. Don’t underestimate the power you have to excite him and please him.
  • Get rid of the phrase “it’s my fertile time”. I know you may be trying for a baby but using that phrase or similar saps nearly all of the romance and passion out of the situation. It is what we could call a “pressure phrase”, that is sure to make him feel performance anxiety again.
  • Don’t think he does not care. He may not always tell you how much you mean to him but he’s only a man and we all know how much they love to express their inner feelings about everything except football! Wanting to make a baby with you is sure evidence of his true feelings.
  • Help him avoid stress. If he is worried about money, try to spend less. Let him know that you are happy no matter whether you are poor or rich, so long as you are together. If he is stressed about work, lend a sympathetic ear.
  • Make your home a haven. As far as it depends upon you try to make the home a stress free haven, a place to look forward to returning to at the end of a busy day.

So remember that nothing is impossible and you and your partner are not alone. With a few relatively minor lifestyle changes and a little help, you can not only get your bedroom bounce back but also find a new lease of life. Trying to conceive and creating a family could be part of that journey too.

Help With Despair and Suicidal Urges

I know that there are many women that find trying for a baby difficult not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. When a woman has a miscarriage or stillbirth it can be extremely painful emotionally. Depression is quite often found in women in this situation. Postnatal and antenatal depression is also far more common than most of us realise too.

It was particularly brought home to me when a friend of mine recently committed suicide. She had struggled with depression for quite some time. Her depression had been triggered by other circumstances, which I won’t go into here. But it got me to thinking about how I felt after I had a miscarriage, how it affected me and my husband. I’d be lying if I said that I had no depression back then. It was hard to accept that the little life inside me was no more. I felt guilty, wondering if it was my fault, angry that something like this could happen when all I ever wanted was to give love to this baby.

If you are one of the many women struggling with similar feelings please, don’t suffer them alone. Contemplating suicide is never the answer. Speaking to trusted family, friends or a health professional is a far better option. If anyone, male or female, ever feels they cannot cope anymore, I would urge them to at least seek the support of a listening ear. Samaritans is a charity offering confidential support and are always willing to listen no matter what the time of day or night. They are only ever a phone call away.

David Richards, professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter, offers the following tips for coping when you’re depressed (excerpt taken from UK National Health Service article).

1. Be more active
Don’t withdraw from life. Socialising can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low.

Take up some form of exercise. There’s evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day. Find out more about exercise for depression.

2. Face your fears
Don’t avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to other people. Some people can lose their confidence in driving or travelling.

If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easier.

3. Don’t drink too much alcohol
For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won’t help you solve your problems. It could also make you feel more depressed.

4. Have a routine
When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible.

Not having a routine can affect your eating. You may stop cooking, eat snacks instead of proper meals or miss breakfast because you’re still in bed. Find out more about healthy eating and depression.

“We all know what it feels like to be down,” says Professor Richards. “Most people who feel low will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. But if these feelings persist or get in the way of everyday life, it’s time to seek help.”

If you’re still feeling down or anxious after a couple of weeks, talk to your Doctor or medical professional.