Are divorced men more likely to have erectile dysfunction?

13.07.2022 - Vertica® experts

Though it has become a very common phenomenon, divorce often entails a complex psychological process involving pain, grief, worry and finally acceptance, followed by “re-birth” and growth. During this process many men cope with issues related to their sexual function.

Although the common assumption is that once divorced, the common man can enjoy sex with as many partners as he may wish to, “the more the marrier”- without any   problems or obligations, the reality might be completely different. For better or for worse, whether the sex is exciting or otherwise boring and sometimes unsatisfactory, marriage life entails a certain routine, which in itself confers confidence. Both partners are well familiar with each other including their needs and sexual preferences. Likewise, each partner knows exactly what is expected from him. After the divorce, however, all of this can change. Sexual encounters become unpredictable, the experience itself feels no longer familiar and a lot remains unknown, and the ground feels less safe. Thus post-divorce, the moments of physical and emotional unity in which we feel so utterly exposed might lead to sexual dysfunction. The reasons for that vary, here are some of the most common ones:

High stress levels

No matter how we look at it, the process of getting a divorce does cause significant stress, even when both partners are happy with the decision. This is because the termination of romantic relationships and familial bonds always leaves an impact on one’s mind. Divorce associated stress could sometimes be financial, legal or simply emotional, whether because of the inability to see the children as regularly as before or missing the comfort of having a full household and a family. When it comes to many of the divorced men, such high stress levels might affect sexual function and cause erectile problems. Some of the most efficient ways of dealing with stress include psychotherapy, which can be combined with relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, mindful breathing etc. When the stress amounts to actual anxiety it is advisable to consult a physician regarding anti-anxiety medications.


Feelings of abandonment and failure

When his partner initiates the divorce it could undermine a man’s self-esteem, leaving him with a sense of abandonment, rejection and even self-failure. All these harsh feelings may have an enormous effect on self-perception, including on aspects relating to sexuality. This could lead to anxiety and even sexual inhibitions particularly when it comes to new sexual interactions. Just like people who are afraid of food and have minimal appetites, this is how many men feel after getting divorced. They have in essence ‘switched off’ their libido because there is no point fueling it if there is no satisfactory outlet. Consequently, they might experience erectile dysfunction too.



Watching porn

According to research, many divorced men watch more porn. The reasons are not necessarily limited to the lack of adequate sex or its absence. Many men watch porn as means of relieving stress. However, experts claim that watching porn can lead to sexual dysfunction when it comes to “real” sexual partners. A 2017 study found that men who watched porn regularly, were more likely to become disinterested in “real life” sex and suffer from erectile dysfunction. The researchers who presented their findings at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting, claimed that porn was as addictive. And just as with regular drug use, men build up a ‘tolerance’ to porn content, which leaves them unsatisfied with real-life sexual activity.


Excessive smoking and drinking

Many men, during or after their divorce, resort to excessive smoking and drinking as means of relieving divorce-associated stress. However, nicotine and alcohol are substances that are considered bad for health in general and specifically for sexual health. Smoking leads to gradual hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels thereby reducing the blood flow to the penis, which often results in erectile dysfunction. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a nervous system depressant with acute effects, thus excessive amounts might undermine the ability to achieve erection during sexual intercourse. It was William Shakespeare who claimed that “Alcohol provokes the desire but takes away your performance”.


Performance anxiety

One of the major reasons due to which divorced men tend to have erectile dysfunction is the lack of satisfying sex life. This might cause men to believe that they have lost their “bedroom skills” resulting in a huge blow to their self-esteem, loss of self-confidence, stress and even anxiety related to their performance in the bedroom with new partners. Anxiety can cause some men to simply give up on new sexual experiences, while for others anxiety makes it harder to obtain and maintain an erection.


To conclude, stress, performance anxiety, sexual inhibitions and erectile dysfunction are not rare phenomena for divorced men. When it comes to erectile problems, it’s important to first consult a physician and rule out an underlying physical problem. It is likewise recommended to seek professional help from a qualified sexual therapist, as otherwise things could get further complicated. A therapist can assist in processing unresolved emotional issues including feelings of self-failure and guilt. This will allow the divorced man to properly complete the separation process and regain his wellbeing and self-confidence. Thereafter, any new sexual relationship will start from a more emotionally balanced, relaxed and safe place.


The Company hereby clarifies that the information contained on the website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical and healthcare advice, and does not constitute medical advice or opinion. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any medical condition or question you may have regarding a medical condition.


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