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Does Viagra help psychological ED?

Written by Mojo, reviewed by Medical Doctor Dr Matthew Chan, and Psychosexual Therapist Amanda Barge

Mojo Co Founders Xander Gilbert and Angus Barge sit on a couch together.

When it comes to psychological impotence, no, Viagra won’t directly help you get an erection.

But ED pills could give you a placebo effect and boost your confidence,(1) which might make it easier to get hard. Don’t worry, we’ll break down all the details in this post. 

Before we begin: what exactly is psychological ED?

To get our heads around what’s going on here, we need to go back to basics.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you can’t get or maintain an erection. And psychological ED is an umbrella term used to cover all the possible ways your mind can shut down your erections. You might have heard people calling it psychogenic ED or mental ED too.

It can be caused by stress, depression, general anxiety, sexual performance anxiety, and lots of other emotional or psychological challenges. 

If this sounds like you, you’re not the only one. 40% of men who suffer from ED have said it’s stress-related.(2) You’re definitely not alone.

Can Viagra help with psychological erectile dysfunction? The low-down

How does Viagra work?

We’ve established that Viagra won’t necessarily help with psychological ED, but to explain why this is, we need to understand how the little blue pills actually work.

Viagra is the brand name for the drug sildenafil, and it belongs to a class of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors. 

You might’ve heard of Cialis (tadalafil), Stendra (avanafil), and Levitra and Staxyn (vardenafil) – they’re all PDE5 inhibitors too. 

“PDE5 inhibitors lead to relaxed blood vessels. This allows increased blood flow, which helps the penis to fill with blood and get hard for sex."
Ramesh Krishnan, Urologist

Click here for a more detailed explanation of how Viagra works.

What Viagra is and isn’t for

Let’s summarize exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) use ED pills for. 

Viagra was developed for:

Viagra wasn't developed for:

Using Viagra for physical ED

So, if your erection issues are caused by physical reasons impacting blood flow (like heart disease or diabetes), Viagra can help you get an erection. 

Remember: you should always talk to your doctor about underlying health conditions before taking ED pills. 

Using Viagra for psychological ED

But, if your erection problems are a result of psychological reasons (like stress or anxiety), Viagra can’t do much to help. This is because psychological ED isn’t connected to an underlying blood flow issue, it’s down to mental blocks.  

However, research has found that sildenafil can boost confidence(3) – and this can be seen as a one-off fix to sort out sexual anxieties and give you an erection.

“If you associate ED pills with reliable erections and you take one before sex, this could give you a new sense of confidence. It’s this confidence, not the pill itself, which might ease your psychological anxieties about sex.”
Amanda Barge, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

This might seem like a quick confidence booster to sort out your problems, but it’s actually a placebo effect and not what sildenafil was designed for. 

Psychological effects of Viagra

Some experts believe that you can become psychologically dependent on Viagra, and this could turn into psychological ED when you stop taking it.(4) 

Amanda explains why:

“When you get into a sexual routine – like taking a Viagra before sex – it can be very easy to get stuck in that rut. You might end up convincing yourself you need to take one every time you have sex or you won’t be able to get it up.

This could then contribute to more anxieties about pill-free sex, and ultimately lead to more psychological ED issues.”
‍Amanda Barge, Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist

Ramesh agrees: 

“Viagra isn't helpful for purely psychological ED. These pills can actually be damaging because if they do work (which would only be because of the placebo effect), the patient may become dependent on them.

And, if ED pills fail to work for men with psychological ED (which is most of the time), it can actually worsen the underlying psychological issue.”

Ramesh Krishnan, Urologist

At Mojo, we're all about getting to the root cause of your psychological erection issues, not putting a pill-shaped band-aid over them.

Treating psychological ED without Viagra

So, if ED pills don’t work for psychological ED, what does? Well, we’ve got good news on this one. There are tons of effective treatments for psychological ED, they’re just not quite as famous as the little blue pills.

Psychosexual techniques paired with practical erection exercises can help you overcome any erection issues and level up your sex life. This is where we come in. 

With Mojo, you can: 

If you want the full rundown on psychological ED treatment, this handy guide can help you figure out which option is best for you.

And if you want to explore more about Mojo’s pill-free erection app, sign up for a trial here.

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7084170/
  2. https://www.cooppharmacy.coop/blog/mens-health2/stressed-out-british-guys-struggling-in-the-bedroom/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16681478/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8417567/

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members in 36 countries

85%

overcoming ED helped in 2 weeks

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Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.