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Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
Job loss, job changes and unemployment will happen during a worldwide pandemic that has rocked the world economy. On today’s episode of the Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast, our host discusses the impact this stress can have on a man’s ability to get an erection.
We dedicate this podcast to educating and empowering men to address erectile dysfunction, improve confidence, and enhance the satisfaction in their relationships. This podcast is hosted by certified sex therapist, Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST.
Transcript of Episode 22 – Job Loss, Mental Health and Erectile Dysfunction
We are living in a crazy time. At the time of this recording, the vaccine rollout has begun for the coronavirus, and there’s hopefully an end in sight to the worst elements of this pandemic. When we can return to normal life is still to be determined.
Regardless of that timeline, the economic toll is enormous. The economy is trying to recover and eventually it will. But, like all major events that rock the economy, the recovery will mean that the economy will probably never be the same.
Industries are changing and adapting at record speed to meet these new challenges, and with that comes job loss and job changes.
Our economy has changed and developed over the years. For the generations of yesteryear, there was a loyalty between employer and employee that often kept people at the same place of work for a lifetime. The notion of working at one company for 40 or more years is now foreign in today’s world, it is expected that people will change roles, employers and even careers over their working life.
Gone are the days of lifetime roles and company pensions. Today, periods of being between jobs has become the norm. So with job loss and unemployment so common, what is the impact on erections and erectile dysfunction?
Let’s start with what a job means. A job provides us with a lot of meaning. It is something that most of us are doing at least 40 hours a week. That’s a lot of time, in fact, there’s probably nothing that we do more than work.
What we do and how well we do it, gives us, a sense of satisfaction, meaning and accomplishment. The work we do and the career path that we embark on can very quickly become a part of our identity.
Ask yourself, are you an accountant, a business analyst, an IT guy? Or are you a person who happens to work in a particular field, for most of us, we are what we do, at least to an extent.
A job is also how we provide for the lifestyle we want and the people we care for, this role also carries a lot of meaning for many men. Financial security and freedom are important values to people, as well as improving the quality of life for family and loved ones.
While the roles of men and women have shifted over the last half of the century, many men continue to see their role as a breadwinner and provider.
I’ve encountered this phenomenon, even when a female partner is earning more money than the guy. These gender roles can have a lot of meaning to both partners. The traditional role of a man as a bread winner can be a comfort and one that couples work toward.
My goal here is not to comment on the old or current state of our society and gender roles, I just want to acknowledge the importance that this role has to many guys. It is particularly important to highlight this in the broader context of job loss.
If you are employed, I think it is important to take some time to reflect on the meaning of your job, if you have lost your job or are struggling with maintaining employment, I imagine it does not feel great and can be depressing and feel emasculating. This issue also goes beyond just job loss, if you are not happy with what you do, uncomfortable with your working conditions or not making a satisfactory salary, you may experience psychological distress similar to job loss.
I know there are many guys out there that fall into this category. This is an important part of your life and can be a significant source of distress. All of this can contribute to ED. So what are the implications of job loss? Loss of a job can feel emasculated.
As we have mentioned, there is a lot of meaning in being employed and feeling productive, we tie our self-worth to this in very deep ways.
It would make sense if a guy experienced a significant drop in self-esteem and self-worth as a result of losing his job. Feeling deserving of sexual pleasure is an important component to gaining and maintaining the robust erections that you want. If you don’t feel good about yourself, if your role as a provider has been diminished, it can be very difficult.
When exploring this concept of masculinity, I feel obligated to, on the one hand, advance a more complex and modernized constructive masculinity, while honoring the wide range of definitions that men have for what it means to them to be a man.
What you believe can have a significant impact on how you make sense of job loss, your role as a man, and how you feel about yourself. All of these can impact erections and thankfully, these constructs are often malleable. Many people fall into a depression as a response to job loss or extended unemployment. Look, losing a job sucks, and it can feel overwhelming.
When life gets derailed from its plans, it can send us into a tailspin and make us want to give up. Increase sleep, decreased energy, and loss of pleasure can all result. Erections need that energy and they need pleasure to make them work best.
Some men will respond to job loss with worry and anxiety, the financial pressure that ensues after job loss can make the mind race and the heart-pound. Anxiety is most commonly experienced with both mental and physical manifestations.
It can be mind-occupying that interferes with sleep and the ability to think about anything else. Anxiety also prevents guys from being receptive to the stimulation that they need to achieve an erection.
The mind is a big part of the erection process, and the more it is occupied, the more difficulties a guy is going to experience. Job loss can also put strain on a relationship. It can be difficult to face your partner, some of the feelings of emasculation and loss of role as a breadwinner maybe felt more acutely in the presence of your partner.
If your primary role, whether actual or just the way you see yourself was based on your job or your income, you can feel out of place and uncomfortable around your life partner and around your family.
Relationship problems can also stem from criticism coming from your spouse; it is difficult for people to manage the stress of job loss. I get where that criticism can come from, even some of the best efforts to be supportive can result in some criticism and when a guy is sensitive, it makes it all the more difficult.
All of this does not bode well for erections. When you’re trying to have sex with your partner, if you feel belittled and small, if you feel not wanted, gaining and maintaining an erection is going to be even more challenging.
So here we are at the beginning of 2021. We are in a difficult time. Some of you may be out of a job and may feel helpless. For others, their job may be changing at rapid speed and facing all sorts of uncertainty moving forward. It’s mind occupying and it impacts how we feel about ourselves.
This is not unique to the current situation, and this is something that really can occur at any time.
So what can you do about it? Well, there may be little you can do about the job market right now. I get that that reality is not going to help your self-worth, your confidence and your erections, ideally, I think we need to be challenging this construct that all we bring to the table is a job… it’s not true.
Your partner likely doesn’t see you this way. If they do, there are probably bigger issues with your relationship than just job loss.
Think about what else you bring to the table. In today’s environment, losing a job is likely not a reflection of you… this is a global crisis, some people will be fortunate or lucky enough to have little impact on their career, and many others will not be as fortunate.
You need to remember this, you are the same man that you were before the pandemic. If the financial anxiety is getting to you, I understand that it is hard to resolve and may be very real.
First off, go easy on yourself, this is not the time to conclude that you have erectile dysfunction; you have a mind-occupying problem. Second, we have a tendency to overestimate our challenges and underestimate our own abilities.
We will get through this, and so will you. If you are feeling uncomfortable with your partner, try to start a conversation, it’s generally not going to be worse than what you are already thinking. You may even be pleasantly surprised. While I generally advocate for people to be self-validating, getting a boost from your partner and situations like this, is not necessarily a bad idea.
This may also be an opportunity to think about what you have not been bringing to the table, I don’t mean with regard to your performance. I’m talking about pleasure. We often overlook this part of the erection process, but it is important.
If you can compartmentalize and look for ways to create pleasurable experiences, that may help to improve erections, if not now, then it will definitely set you up for success down the road.
I know that there are a lot of layers to job loss, masculinity and erectile dysfunction, and while these experiences are unique to each person, what we outlined today should serve as a good starting point in beginning to peel away some of those layers.
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