Psychological Impotence Explained

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Psychological Impotence Explained

male impotence patient

Impotence is a relatively common problem among men, affecting more than half of all men at one time or another according to the Cleveland Clinic. This condition can be defined as the inability of a man to obtain or keep an erection for sexual intercourse. Some men may still be fertile enough to father children, but the issue can have a significant impact on their confidence, quality of life and intimate relationships. Impotence can be both psychological or physical, and the source of the problem will determine the recommended treatment.

Physical vs. Psychological Impotence

Physical impotence is caused by a medical condition, injury or surgery in most cases. There are numerous potential contributors to this problem, including heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Use of substances like street drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or even specific prescription medications can also bring on erectile dysfunction. In the case of physical impotence, treating the underlying disorder or stopping the substance use may be enough to reverse the problem. Medical treatment is also available for physical impotence, including medications or surgical options.

Psychological impotence is a more complicated issue that involves fear or anxiety by a man that he will not be able to perform in the bedroom. It may also be referred to as performance anxiety. However, psychological impotence may stem from a variety of underlying concerns, including mental disorders or life circumstances that may be weighing heavily on the individual at any given time. The impotence can become more problematic over time as the more a man worries about obtaining an erection, the less likely he will be to do so.

Why does Psychological Impotence Occur?

Psychological impotence can be attributed to a variety of underlying factors, including:


Chronic stress may involve a high-pressure job or other ongoing tension, while acute stress may be defined as the loss of a family member, divorce or move. No matter what the source of the stress might be, the effects can carry over into the bedroom. On a physiological level, stress ignites the fight or flight response in the body, which has a physical impact as well as a mental one. Both these effects may play into the impotence problem as the body focuses on other functions other than stress.


Like stress, anxiety can be both chronic and acute. Chronic anxiety may result from a mental disorder, while acute anxiety is usually associated with a specific event. Performance anxiety, which may only crop up in the bedroom, also falls into this category. Even if anxiety was not the initial cause of the impotence, it could become a factor over time as a man begins to worry about his ability to engage in intercourse.


This disorder can affect every aspect of your life, including your intimate relationships. Numerous studies have indicated a direct correlation between depression and impotence, even in men that are usually comfortable in intimate situations. To compound the problem, some of the medications used to treat depression can also lead to impotence, requiring a careful look to get to the underlying source for the most effective treatment options.

Problems in the Relationship

When two people in a relationship experience problems outside the bedroom, they can affect the happenings inside the bedroom as well. Relationship conflicts make it difficult to connect for intimate encounters and can even lead to indifference over sex in one or both partners.

Low Self-Esteem

Men suffering from low self-esteem for any reason may find they have greater difficulty performing sexually as well. In some cases, the esteem problem may stem from the impotence issue, while other men may find the low esteem leads to erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Like physical impotence, psychological impotence must be treated by addressing the source of the problem. In this case, it involves recognising the mental or psychological issues contributing to the impotence, rather than identifying a medical condition or substance problem. Once the problems are known, they can be addressed through counseling and other methods. It is important to note that the sooner a man seeks treatment for psychological impotence, the more effective treatment is likely to be.

If you are struggling with impotence, the first step is to have a professional assessment of the problem so that you can determine what type of treatment will work the best for you. Professor Moore is an expert on all kinds of male impotence and offers a variety of treatment options. To schedule your consultation with Professor Moore, contact the Australian Centre for Cosmetic and Penile Surgery on 0414 251 234.

Prof Colin Moore