Erectile Issues: mental health concern or an embarrassing misfire?

Written by Mojo, medically reviewed
by Dr Matthew Chan, Medical Doctor

If you are a man between the ages of 16 and 40 your social media feed will include adverts of droopy cactus, cartoon aubergines and funny shaped bananas. Yeh, you are being targeted by erection medication delivery services. The jokey tone of their advertising is not meant to make fun of your issues in the bedroom. Their intentions are good. Mostly, we hope. They are trying to normalise what is now a very common problem for men of all ages.

The male stereo-type of avoiding doctors at all costs, is one that is exaggerated when talking about erections. So, whatever the motives behind the humorous marketing campaigns are, creating an environment where men can share and be more open about their problems is worth applauding. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make sure we understand the issue.

There have been numerous academic studies suggesting larger and more mind boggling numbers but it is widely accepted that by the age of 30, 30% of men will have experienced problems getting it up and by the age of 40, that rises to 40%. As a society we have a problem and we need to talk about it.

So it’s no longer just a problem for old men, whose general health has slipped or their sexual desire has diminished through a natural drop in their testosterone levels. It now affects young men, who are quite often at peak fitness, with very active sex drives. We therefore have a generation of men who are feeling embarrassed or scared and their sexual partners somewhere between insecure, disappointed and (from what we have heard) even angry. Should we be considering this a serious mental health issue?

We think so.

When urologists (doctors specialising in most things urinary, renal and genitals) deal with older men with ED they often say that problems with your erection can be a warning sign of other more serious health concerns. Many doctors will be caught telling the old boys, “You should in-fact be glad of your erection problems, they might be flagging more sinister conditions!” We believe it is no different when dealing with young men. They too can learn lessons from their erection failures. Maybe not warnings of cardiovascular disease but more about their failing support networks and social anxiety.

Let me build a case here. In Johann Hari’s 2018 book, Lost Connections, he argues that there are nine common life circumstances that cause depression. When we think about the psychological effect of erection issues it is possible to relate them to the conditions that Hari warns us about in his book. Probably as many as three of the nine, depending on the extent of the issue. Let’s see…

Disconnection from others. Lost Connections tells the beautiful story of a diverse suburb in Berlin coming together to save their neighbourhood from development plans. In the process, pulling individuals in the community out of tragic isolation. For men, erection problems are a very private issue and certainly not something that they commonly or easily share. There are young men experiencing erection issues that feel that they are harbouring a secret. This feeling of desperation, wanting to deal with something alone, is what has made erection med delivery services so successful.

Disconnection from status and respect. When referencing Robert Sapolsky’s study on baboons Hari’ points out the increase in the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in a human’s body when they are made to feel disrespected. There are plenty of things that make us feel inferior but, for a man, not many things more so than feeling emasculated. Even if your problems with your erections are between you and your trusted partner, the feeling of being deficient can be very traumatic.

Disconnection from a secure future. Lost Connections delves into the tragic rate of suicide in Native American communities. Psychologist Michael Chandler discovered the rate of suicide on reserves where communities had regained control of general governance dropped dramatically. He attributes this to humans needing to feel in control of their future. Now this point you will read either as the most compelling or my tipping into hyperbole and hysteria. But, if it wasn’t clear from this blog so far, these feelings come from personal experience and since founding Mojo, we have interviewed hundreds of men who have felt the same way. When a single man experiences erection issues, he can question his ability to get a partner and be loved. If we give into the internal fear of never being able to have sex again, the futures we envision can seem very unsure.

The seriousness of the erection issues as a mental health threat has more gravity when we consider what effect this physical failure can have on our psychological state.

At Mojo we offer men online rehabilitation programs so men can take control of their issues in the way they choose. More importantly we are building a community. Not to normalise erection issues but to make men more comfortable with their insecurities.

A problem shared is a problem halved. Share in the Mojo community and be part of that, whether you are struggling with erections or have done in the past. Your stories and support will help others.

If you take anything from this blog post we hope it has made you think about the way erection issues are portrayed. It is Mojo’s goal to realise erection problems for what they are, a traumatic experience, which impacts a man’s mental health, not just their pride.