Sex is a natural part of a healthy life. But what happens when it's hard to perform sexually and enjoy intimate relations? Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual difficulty for men. There are an estimated 30 million men in the US affected by ED, so if you relate to this, you’re not alone.
Psychological factors often cause or contribute to ED. One of the main drivers is stress. Because of this, even though meditation and erectile dysfunction may not seem like a complementary pair, meditation can be a very successful solution. Healthy sexuality requires a low ratio of stressful versus positive feelings. Meditation and mindfulness support this goal and can help.
In this article, you’ll find information on what erectile dysfunction is, how ED meditation can help you, guided imagery for ED, and how to incorporate meditation into ED management.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. This plagues 13% of modern men, with 42% reporting sexual difficulties in general. Since an erection can only happen when you are in a “calm and vegetative state,” the answer to your sexual woes may lie in your nervous system. Here’s why…
When your heart rate and blood flow increase during sex, you activate the part of your nervous system that also controls the fight or flight response. If you tip into stress instead of arousal, you may lose the erection. When you’re stressed, high levels of cortisol and adrenaline get pumped into your body. This decreases the flow of oxygen and blood, which you need to keep an erection.
Meditation and mindfulness help us navigate the fine line between arousal and stress, leading to better erections and ultimately, better sex. These practcies work by helping to rewire the brain…In one study, meditation changed the structure of the amygdala in as little as 8 weeks. (The amygdala is a core part of the brain that controls the stress response.) Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., cites that 60% of doctor's visits for ED were psychological. So, by training your brain to respond better to stress, you’ll have better erections.
How Meditation for Erectile Dysfunction Can Help
Mindfulness includes any practice that uses attention to increase awareness. Erectile dysfunction meditation focuses on the connection between the genitals and the mind. In a world where we live mostly in our minds, we can easily lose connection with our bodies. As you reconnect the body and the mind, you decrease stress and anxiety.
You may not even realize that your mind is busy, which can increase underlying feelings of stress. As you practice meditation, you’ll become aware of how often your mind strays. When you’re unable to stay present and focused on the body, you’re less likely to relax enough to keep an erection. The more you become aware of your thoughts and internal sensations, the more you’re able to refocus your attention. This is helpful in everyday life, especially in the bedroom.
Meditation has plenty of positive impacts on stress-related factors. David F. Khalili, LMFT, a sex and couples therapist in the Bay Area, says, “Biologically speaking, you are lowering cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate and the stress hormones. Psychologically you’re more aware and present. Emotionally you are less reactive.”
Researchers have been studying the effect of meditation on erectile dysfunction for decades. In one 1977 study, Dr. Gérard V. Sunnen, MD wrote that “individuals will invariably describe sensations of fullness and warmth with their attention on their genitals.” Being able to experience this sensation is the first step in having more (and better) erections.
Erectile Dysfunction Meditation: Step-by-Step Guided Practice
There isn’t a singular way to practice ED meditation. A great place to start is a body scan, like the meditation below. The goal is not to control or change anything, but to raise awareness. You want to ask questions like “What do I feel here? What happens when I touch X?” Approach it with curiosity and openness. With time and consistent application, your mind and body reconnect.
Get a sense of what erectile dysfunction meditation offers by practicing this body scan.
Guided meditation for erectile dysfunction
Set a timer for 15-30 minutes. It’s helpful to have a set container for this practice; a private, quiet and comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
Let this practice be enough, even if nothing shifts for you right now. Continue this practice often to increase awareness and connect more to your body. This will help you feel more grounded, calm, and present in your experiences, decreasing stress and increasing relaxation.
Guided Imagery for Erectile Dysfunction
If you prefer visualization, guided imagery meditations can also help men overcome ED. In this practice, your brain gets rewired through visualization.
Guided imagery for ED works through visualizing a positive sexual experience. The more you picture yourself in a positive outcome, the more likely your mind will rewire itself for the real thing. It also helps you practice accessing the feelings and sensations that arise with that outcome, so your brain and body are primed to imitate this experience. The mind is a truly powerful tool.
A study conducted by Professor K. Kuruvilla, Head of the Psychiatry Department at Christian Medical College in Vellore, found that 70% of men treated with guided imagery and sexual re-education succeeded in overcoming their psychological ED.
How to Incorporate Meditation Into ED Management
Adding meditation into your ED management plan is simple. First, decide on which type of meditation for ED to practice. What feels right to you? Be willing to try out a few different techniques for a well-rounded effect. Next, make time in your schedule when you can be alone and relaxed for meditation.
Types of meditation for ED
The body scan (like the one above) will help you become aware of your body as a whole. It assists your body to relax and to increase sensation. The increased presence coupled with a stronger connection to your body helps you feel grounded, connected, and confident.
This option is great for people with a strong visual mind. By walking through a specific scenario, you can rewire your mind through visualization. You can also prime your body to experience the sensations and feelings a positive sexual experience offers, making it easier to access these feelings later.
Meditation with Self Touch
Mindfully touch your genitals to connect awareness with physical sensation. This will help connect your mind with physical interactions. Let there be no goal, no expectation. Just approach this meditation with the intention to know yourself better, to feel what arises naturally, and gain deeper awareness.
Tips for starting a meditation practice
Choose a goal that is small and easily doable… like 2-5 minutes per day. You can work up to longer periods of time when it’s accessible and feels right.
Pick an accessible time of day and specific practices that resonate with you. The less wiggle room you give your mind, the more likely you are to show up. A study performed by Dr. Lori Brotto and her colleagues showed that a 4-week meditation practice had a direct positive effect on men’s ability to get and maintain an erection. As we’ve always heard, consistency is key!
Create a space
Have a space set aside that is specifically for meditation. Ideally one that is comfortable, private, and allows you to fully relax. Ensure there are no distractions and minimize electronics. Incorporate things like plants, lighting, and colors that feel soothing to you. Set and setting is important, especially when rewiring the brain.
Erectile dysfunction meditation is the practice of using mindfulness to resolve ED. Your modern lifestyle may be driving stress and sex anxiety, which contributes to erectile dysfunction. As you strengthen the connection between your body and mind, you can ease the experience of ED. Commit to slowing down, applying mindfulness to your sexuality, and you may see results in your sexual health within a matter of weeks.
- 1Bossio JA;Basson R;Driscoll M;Correia S;Brotto LA; “Mindfulness-Based Group Therapy for Men with Situational Erectile Dysfunction: A Mixed-Methods Feasibility Analysis and Pilot Study.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Oct. 2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30297094/.
- 2“Erectile Dysfunction (Ed).” Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment - Urology Care Foundation, www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed).
- 3Fighting Anxiety with Mindfulness for Better Erections | Podcast | Erectile Dysfunction. Erection IQ, 15 Nov. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIvH5gSoKeI.
- 4Lehmiller, Justin. “Men's Most Common Sexual Problems (Infographic).” Sex and Psychology, 13 Oct. 2021, www.sexandpsychology.com/blog/2014/6/12/mens-most-common-sexual-problems-infographic/.
- 5“Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in Eight Weeks.” ScienceDaily, Massachusetts General Hospital, 21 Jan. 2011, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110121144007.htm.
- 6Mitchell, Marilyn. “Dr. Herbert Benson's Relaxation Response.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201303/dr-herbert-benson-s-relaxation-response.
- 7Robert Sapolsky: Why Stress Creates Erectile Dysfunction. Greater Good Science Center, 20 Mar. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mnOGe_DYhk.
- 8Sarah McEwen, PhD. “Meditation & Mindfulness for Stress Reduction.” Pacific Neuroscience Institute, 24 Nov. 2020, www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/blog/brain-health/meditation-mindfulness-for-stress-reduction/.
- 9Sunnen, Gérard V. “Meditative Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction.” Meditative Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction, Pergamon Press, www.triroc.com/sunnen/topics/erectiledysfun.htm.
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