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Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
On today’s podcast we discuss the mental health challenges related to erectile dysfunction and anxiety as many of us begin the process of reacclimating to society while emerging from this worldwide pandemic.
The Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is dedicated to educating and empowering men to address erectile dysfunction, improve confidence, and enhance the satisfaction in their relationships. This podcast is hosted by Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST. Mark is a certified sex therapist.
Transcript of Episode 37 – Anxiety, Erectile Dysfunction and Reacclimating to Society
Casey: Welcome back, my name is Casey and I am the podcast producer here at ED Radio. I am happy to join Mark for today’s episode where we are discussing challenges related to anxiety, ED, and reacclimating to society as we emerge from this worldwide pandemic.
Please take us through some of the mental processes with reacclimating to things as we look to emerge from this pandemic that has really changed society.
Mark: I think that’s a great question and it’s also very broad. So before I answer that, I want to acknowledge that we do have listeners all over the world, and we do record this podcast in the United States, which has seen tremendous progress with beating back the pandemic.
We also recognize that not all of our listeners are living in places where the pandemic has begun to receive and is being beaten back to the same extent, so we want to acknowledge that this may not be at the time of this recording appropriate for everybody, but we are hopeful that the world as a whole will get there.
When it comes to the question about re-acclimation, I think there’s a lot that we still don’t know, I think it’s hard to know exactly what the mental health challenges will be long-term as people reintegrate into society. Generally speaking, people can experience anxiety when they transition between life circumstances, between relationship status, between jobs, and certainly on a more broad scale, reentering into some semblance of society as we knew it.
Something that I know I have experienced and I imagine many other people are experiencing, or continue to experience is just a feeling of unease stepping into a building, wearing a mask, not wearing a mask. When can you take it off? Those feelings inside of each and every one of us, those feelings doubt, that’s what I would categorize as part of this process of anxiety of re-acclimating to the world as we used to know it and to the world as we’re going to know it moving forward.
That hesitation, that uneasy feeling inside of us is something that I think impacts each and every one of us, both individually and in our relationships.
Casey: How is anxiety with reacclimating to a post-pandemic world related to erectile dysfunction? How do I make that connection in my head?
Mark: As we’ve mentioned many times on this podcast and we will continue to mention, any anxiety can interfere with erections. Your mind has to be focused on pleasure, it has to be comfortable, you need to feel relaxed, and any hesitation, any anxiety can begin to erode that optimal environment for erections.
In particular, many people have spent months, even more than a year, in isolation, they haven’t sought new relationships, they haven’t necessarily had a sexual partner, some people have spent time really becoming comfortable engaging with sexual partners. As they move forward to re-engaging with sexual partners, hesitancies that they used to experience can re-emerge.
Doubts, fears what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate. Am I reading the signals correctly? People have spent months and years trying to grow comfortable with that and being in isolation, not being engaged actively in these kinds of relationships can create a whole slew of different forms of anxieties about how to engage a partner, how to feel comfortable… all of that can impact an erection process.
Casey: What other impact on sexual health do you think the pandemic has had on men and their partners?
Mark: In terms of Covid-19 and the virus itself, I do not know, and I’m not sure how soon we’re going to know about the actual impacts.
I’m aware that there have been some articles about the potential that Covid-19 can have a direct physiological impact on erections. However, I do not have enough information to speak directly about the virus. In terms of the pandemic itself, there have been many, many impacts when it comes to men and sexual health where a man finds himself during the pandemic is really going to determine what those impacts may be.
A man who was used to going out and meeting people and was forced in doors and into a lockdown and turned more towards pornography is going to see changes and adjustments to how he relates to his own sexuality.
And again, like we’ve mentioned, may have challenges when he goes to re-engage with partners, people who are living together in long-term relationships, and may have found that with both of them working out of the house, they had healthy outlets with co-workers and friends, and that became limited may experience tension in their relationship, may have experienced a lot of distance, even though two people are in the house together.
For other people, there may be positive impacts on their sexual relationship, couples who weren’t able to find time prior to the pandemic, and by nature of being at home together for hours and days and really weeks and months on end, we’re able to create time and create those moments. So the question, I think is easier to say, it’s clear that this is impacting men across the board and on a very wide scale, and a lot of those impacts are going to depend on the situations that men find themselves in.
Casey: Living through this pandemic, plus a boom and technology, it’s really led to a changing landscape and how we interact socially. We recently did an episode on dating apps and how that can impact the erectile dysfunction, for example, can you just remind us about how all of this technology, this texting and really just less face-to-face interactions, how does this all impact a man’s erection process?
Mark: I would break this question down into two parts, one of those parts is a more broad adaptation of dating apps as a way to meet people, and the second part is maintaining virtual relationships. I think those go down two separate tracks when we’re thinking about erections. With regard to dating apps, as we mentioned on the episode, and we cover this more in-depth, for some men, being able to just meet up with people feels very comfortable, very arousing, very exciting to meet new people.
There’s something intriguing about not knowing everything about that person or not even knowing that much, but for other men, there’s a real anxiety that comes with that, whether they’re worried about their own performance, they’re worrying about what this partner might be thinking about them and being on these dating apps can make erections in a partnered setting very challenging.
The second part of this is a question about the non-face-to-face interactions, more of the virtual relationships where people have either met or have sustained relationships over communication channels like texting and video calls, and the like.
It’s hard to know exactly what the long-term impact of these types of relationships is going to be. Certainly, as we mentioned earlier, again, the re-acclimating that people are going to go through when they return to face-to-face interactions can have certain challenges. Something that men should be considering is if they have seen a change in their erections, either a decrease or conversely, potentially a more robust type of erection with that distance, this may indicate the role that relationships play in terms of their erection process.
Some men may find it more comfortable to not have face-to-face interactions and may be able to relax more and more easily achieve an erection, where other men may find that the distance with the technology is unappealing and has a negative impact on desire and subsequently they’re seeing less erections. I think time will tell in terms of people and countries emerge from this pandemic, time will tell if some sort of hybrid model emerges that helps the support the erection process for men or becomes a hindrance and a challenge
Casey: As we emerge from this pandemic, it’s going to result in major change in people’s lives, and as tragic and unfortunate as this pandemic has been, there may be aspects of it that people have actually enjoyed.
Why does such a drastic change in someone’s life such as emerging from a pandemic, seem to impact sexual health and erections?
Mark: Like we mentioned earlier, transitions are difficult, human beings on the one hand, are resilient, and I think it’s remarkable how so many people we’re able to really shift and adjust their lives and in some ways, overcome challenges and even excel and thrive through this pandemic.
We definitely have a resiliency to us in general. On the other hand, we are creatures of habit, our anxieties are best kept in check when we know what to expect when the environment is familiar to us, when the rules that have governed our lives for many years are the same rules that we’re seeing today. And when those rules change and shift, we can struggle, we can feel anxious, that unknown can be a very mind-occupying and scary type of thing. That’s for us on an individual level.
On a relationship level, the isolation that many of us have experienced and the re-acclimating and re-integrating into social settings is another transition point that we have to learn how to re-navigate and that comes with a bunch of unknowns, fears, worries, all sorts of thoughts and other feelings that can impact the mind, which ultimately impacts sexual function.
Casey: Do you have any other final thoughts for our audience before we end today’s recording?
Mark: I think that men who have experienced a noticeable decrease in sexual desire, a noticeable decrease in how robust their erections are, whether that’s struggling to gain an erection, not maintaining it, changes in rigidity, I think they have to go easy on themselves.
Certainly as we look to emerge from this pandemic, it’s a transition period and I think how that transition period is navigated, what a man internalizes about what he’s going through makes a big difference in terms of whether this becomes a chronic issue or whether this becomes an isolated time period that ultimately he will be able to transition out of and to put himself in a position where he can comfortably and reliably gain and maintain erections and have a satisfying sex life.
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