The Issue: Mood Killers
How we’re feeling emotionally is a big part of how we’re doing sexually. Your mood has a lot to do with your libido, arousal, erections and orgasm because key brain regions and the nerves tracts involved are also strongly linked to how we’re thinking and feeling. This is why your mood affects your sex drive, and why it’s common for stress, fatigue and depression to lead to loss of libido, erection issues or finding it hard to orgasm.
- Loss of interest in sex and changes to how the hardware works are actually common signs of stress, burnout or depression for men. Prioritising sleep, rest and mental health can help.
- It’s completely normal if stressful weeks temporarily block bedroom activity, but if it’s not getting any better make an appointment with your doctor as something deeper might be going on.
The Issue: Porn Addiction
Most guys watch pornography on the semi-regular (*not a mental health issue, don’t worry*), but a small percentage report watching it a lot – as in a lot, a lot. Sex and pornography can, and do, slip into the realms of addiction, and numbers here are rising. If your porn watching starts to feel out of control and interrupts on other areas of life or causes you distress then it’s a sign things might have crossed a line.
- If you feel uneasy about how much time you’re clocking up, get scheduled about when and how long you do it. Making gradual planned out cut backs week by week is the way to go.
- Things become habitual, so for cutting down come up with a competing or go to ‘other’ activity to practice doing when and if that urge first strikes.
The Issue: Medication
Needing medication to help with mental health is never (ever) a cause for shame or failure. But just like meds for physical conditions, they can come with side effects too. Many of the same chemical messengers mental health meds use to work are involved in sex as well. It’s therefore fairly common for men taking antidepressants to notice impacts on sex drive, erections or being able to orgasm.
- Noticing some temporary changes in sex drive, hardness or orgasm is common with medications for depression & anxiety, but if it’s a major issue or causing stress then reach out to your doc.
- A dose reduction or change in medication might be needed here, and some are less likely to have these effects.
The Issue: Performance Pressure
Most men know the feeling of not being able to get it up at some point, but anxiety is actually the most common cause for this to become a regular thing for young guys. Being primed for sex turns ‘fight/flight’ pathways mostly off, and the parasympathetic nervous system (for rest & relaxation) gets turned on. Anxiety & stress thus act as counter cues for getting and staying hard, with surveys showing that worries about performance and body image fears are common for men too.
- If worries about performance, body image or another ‘misfire’ are causing you anxiety then be honest with your partner as studies show (a) they’ll be fine with it & (b) that this can help.
- A tip can be to take things slow & back to basics; leave the pressure off and start with foreplay or a focus on them first then slowly build back up to the main event from there.
The Issue: Kink vs Concern
“Is it weird to like *insert word here* in the bedroom?” Well, the 101 here is that there’s no hard or fast rule my friend. A paraphilia is what we call a strong sexual attraction toward an abnormal target (like ‘Fetishism’, arousal to inanimate objects; or ‘Partialism’, a specific part of the body, like feet or elbows). Things become a disorder when it causes someone significant distress, starts to interrupt their daily life and/or involves harm to yourself or others. So generally speaking, while that ‘weird’ thing you like might be a bit ‘unique’, if it’s not illegal, causing you/others harm or interrupting general life then chances are you’re a-ok.
- If something to do with attraction, arousal or your sex life is causing concern or harm then it’s important to reach out for help. These can be a big factor in risk for mental struggles, so the sooner it’s flagged the better.