Masturbation Exercise for ED
Gaining Control of Your Erections through Mindful Touch
Erectile dysfunction is a relatively common issue amongst people with penises, and most people will find themselves unable to achieve a wanted erection at some point in their lives. Before becoming too concerned about erectile dysfunction, it is important to keep in mind that erection density, or how firm an erection is, naturally varies, and that changes in erection density are normal and healthy. These changes allow fresh, oxygenated blood to reach the penis and maintain tissue health. However, if you are consistently having difficulty obtaining or maintaining erections that is negatively impacting your sex life, then you may want to check in with a professional.
Sometimes there is a medical cause for erectile dysfunction, so it is worth it to get checked out by your doctor. After ruling out medical causes, the most common psychological culprits for erectile dysfunction are anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem, which affect erections by interfering with the body’s automatic sexual response via the nervous system. If you find yourself struggling with erectile dysfunction due to psychological causes, this masturbation exercise may be helpful for you.
This intervention is specific to solo masturbation, which gives you a chance to practice mindful masturbation and be in tune with your body. The better you are able to do this by yourself, the more mindful you can be with a partner. So even if you only experience erectile issues during partnered sex, this masturbation exercise will help you lay the foundation of being present in your own body and not attuning to anxious or distracted thoughts that interfere with your automatic sexual response.
Your assignment during this masturbation exercise is to get, and then lose, your erection at least five times while masturbating. Do this without the aid of mental stimulation such as pornography or fantasy; your goal here is to focus on physical sensations and tune out thoughts that may distract you from your body. Do not bring yourself to orgasm during the exercise. If you feel that you would like to have an orgasm once you are finished, make sure that occurs in a separate masturbation session.
Touch yourself in many different ways, and be mindful of what types of touch, speeds, and intensities that you like. If you find that one type of touch is very pleasurable and you get an erection, notice that, and then move on to something else. Move to a different type of touch, focus on a different body part, or take a break until your erection goes away completely. Do not force it to go away by thinking of unpleasant things; simply do something different to your body until your penis becomes flaccid on its own.
Once that happens, you are free to return to whatever type of mindful touch you like. Once you get another erection, repeat the pattern: change up the location, style, or intensity until your penis is flaccid again. If, during the course of the intervention, you begin to become frustrated, anxious, or begin to get inside your head, take a few deep breaths and focus on the sensation.
You may be thinking something along the lines of, “if I want to get an erection, why would I do an exercise where I try to lose it?” Here is why this intervention works:
Completion of this exercise achieves multiple things. First, it gives you a good sense of the types, location, and intensities of touch and sensation that you like, and the ones that are most pleasurable and/or likely to lead to physical arousal. You can go back to these by yourself or with a partner or partners when you are hoping to get an erection. Second, it shows you that you have the ability to have an erection, lose it, and still get it back – that changes in erection density are normal and variable, and that focusing on your body instead of your thoughts gives you more control over that. Third, the exercise shows you that masturbation can be exciting, playful, and enjoyable without a consistently firm erection. People often think that erections are necessary for physical pleasure. However, the nerve endings in your erogenous zones function whether you are hard or not! While society often places a high value on erections in sexual scenarios, there are a plethora of sexual activities that can be enjoyed without erections, or with penises that are not 100% erect.
Examining the nervous system helps us to understand why focusing on your bodily sensations helps you to have better control of your erections. Your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary bodily functions, is split into two branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for things like breathing and digestion – and is also vital in sexual arousal. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your fight-or-flight response when you are anxious or scared; because it perceives there to be some sort of threat, it is less concerned about things like arousal and just wants to keep you safe. These two systems counteract one another; only one can be online at a time.
When you are relaxed and begin to become aroused, your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged and you are able to get an erection. When anxious thoughts pop up during sex, such as “Will I get an erection? What if I don’t? Will my partner still be into this?” your sympathetic nervous system is activated and makes it difficult to get or maintain an erection. This is where erectile dysfunction happens. If you can take attention away from those anxious thoughts by focusing on pleasurable sensations, you will re-engage your parasympathetic system and switch the sympathetic system offline, and your body will relax enough to get an erection. Once this happens, you’ve taught your brain and body that focusing on sensations instead of those anxious thoughts can lead to an erection – and since you have control over what you choose to focus on, you are also in control of your erection.
Give this masturbation exercise a try and find out how it could be helpful for you.
If you are struggling with implementing this masturbation exercise or want more support with your sexual functioning, feel free to contact the Center for Growth at 215-922-5683 to get connected with a sex therapist who can tailor a treatment plan to your needs.