If the effort of getting it up and keeping it up has turned into a downer, freaking out your partners and mucking with your male pride, try not to panic.Ten per cent of guys go limp at some point in their lives -- it's called erectile dysfunction (ED) -- and the probability increases with age. But if you can pin down the cause, this dreaded affliction is often reversible.
If it's been a few months since your pecker danced, find yourself a health care professional and don't let him or her tell you it's all in your head until you've been thoroughly checked out.
Most instances of ED -- about 80 to 90 per cent -- are the result of disease, with the two biggies being diabetes and cardiovascular disease. ED, in fact, is often the first noticeable symptom of these -- and can point to many other illnesses, as well. For this reason, don't leap to Viagra, with its possibly serious side effects. Once the culprit's found, you may not need a penis-engorging drug at all. Also remember that all sorts of prescription meds, alcohol, tobacco and street drugs undermine potency.
If your body's fine and you're still having nighttime erections while you dream, you've likely got a psychological or relationship challenge on your hands. You may need some help getting to the bottom of the matter. After all, if you were aware of the conflict being expressed by the symptom, you wouldn't be having it in the first place.
If this article is describing your partner, it's time to do some talking. Chances of full resolution increase when all parties strategize together.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
(For life-long erectile function) "clean out the liver with a detox and increase dietary fibre. Yoga helps increase blood supply to the pelvic region and massages the internal organs. Use lots of sauteed ginger and garlic to increase circulation. What's important to fill the penis with blood is (naturally present) nitric oxide. Certain herbs will increase its effectiveness -- one of the best is oats. Oatstraw in a tincture or pill form will also help. Take a multivitamin and extra vitamin E (400 IU daily) and zinc (200 milligrams). Cycling can affect erectile health. The seat presses up on the prostate and can damage the pudendal nerve. Homeopathic medicines can help the body reverse the condition."
DENIS MARIER, naturopath
"According to traditional Chinese medicine, ED is usually caused by a kidney energy deficiency. (In Western terms) it represents (a problem with) the whole nervous system. When a person is under stress, the central nervous system will be affected. (To treat) I combine acupuncture and herbal formulas, and people have to see me at least once a week. They must get proper rest, and sometimes I even teach them chi gung exercises. For young people, recovery is fast -- usually within three weeks. For senior citizens, it usually takes about six months."
TOM FUNG, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner
"There are relationship influences on impotence, such as lack of attraction to a partner, general unhappiness in the relationship and fears of closeness and intimacy. For some men, it's hard to feel lustful toward a woman they love. Or impotence may be a passive-aggressive expression. The problem (in this case) isn't in the penis. The less couples focus on erections and the more they focus on arousal and pleasure, the better the sexual experience.'
MEL STARR, clinical psychologist
"Most men initially think (ED) is psychological. But once erections have noticeably started to soften, without therapy erections will often go through a dramatic decline. We direct (people with heart disease or diabetes) to get treatment, which will help preserve the erectile function they have. But modifying those factors won't improve erectile function. All therapies involve giving medication that increases blood flow. The difference between oral and direct medication into the penis is that you only need micro-amounts (of the latter) and there will be fewer side effects. If you try to address the psychological factors without using medical therapy to give better erections, it's generally ineffective."
KEN ADAMS, MD, Canadian Men's Clinic
"Doctors may not know the connection between sex hormone diminishment and adrenal exhaustion. What happens with aging is that the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, which spasms in orgasm and maintains erection, weakens through lack of use. Ordinary sex doesn't give enough of a workout to the PC. That's an area where tantra is wonderful. Even if a PC program doesn't work, I can teach someone to do an energy orgasm using the fire breath. It is as pleasurable as a physical orgasm. A new limit means partners have to get more creative, and that can bring people closer."
LUCY BECKER, tantra teacher