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Combating Erectile Dysfunction



Pauline Ryeland – Intimacy Whisperer and Somatic Sexological Body Worker:


When there is an erection, nerve impulses either travel either from the brain or the genitals to encourage blood to flow to the penis. These nerve impulses tell the arteries around the penis to increase blood flow into the muscle at the base of the penis so that they contract, which results in an erection. But, if the pubo-coccygeus (PC) muscle is too tight, then it will stop the blood flow.

Therefore, it’s important to find a balance between having a strong PC muscle and a toned one to reduce erectile dysfunction. If we are feeling stressed, which can often be due to lifestyle choices, then it’s important to allow the body to relax before sex. An excellent relaxation technique is to use deep breathing, which turns on the parasympathetic nervous system.


If erectile problems are occurring, then we need to determine if it’s an organic cause, such as damage to nerves through surgery or cycling, or if there are any chronic health conditions such as diabetes, MS or heart problems and medications causing the problem. Other reasons for erectile dysfunction can include alcohol consumption and smoking as well as prostate problems, pain in the body, scar tissue and low testosterone and hormonal levels.

We also need to look at your lifestyle, how you feel about yourself and your sexuality, and your sexual beliefs. If you’re experiencing grief, fear, anxiety or stress, have a low body attitude, or feel shame, self-hate or guilt, then this may be affecting your ability to have an erection. Other considerations are your sexual skills, education, possible fear of intimacy and other variants that may reduce your sexual function.

As a libido coach, I take all of these factors into consideration and some of the techniques I teach others how to focus on strengthening and toning the PC muscle. As well as introducing a whole range of exercises to connect you with your body so that you can slow down your autonomic nervous system through breath and movement.

For you to increase your sexual function, it’s also important for you to ask yourself some questions, these being:
A) If your erectile dysfunction is chronic, how long has it been a problem for?
B) If your erectile dysfunction is occurring from time-to-time, when does it occur and how often is it occurring?
C) Is your erectile dysfunction occurring due to stress and anxiety?

Once you’ve answered these questions, then finding a solution is often much easier. The good news is that unless you have a serious health issue, or you need to take medication, erectile difficulties can often be turned around.


There are many ways to experience sexual pleasure and sometimes it’s a matter of looking outside-the-box and learning how to open your orgasmic experience through learning new skills. Therefore, there is also a need for men and women to have a greater level of sexual education so that they can have a good sexual experience regardless of whether an erection present or not.

Pauline RyelandPauline Ryland is an Intimacy Whisperer and a certified Somatic Sexological Body Worker, Tantra Teacher and Facilitator, and a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Plus, she’s also an Advanced Subconscious Reprogramming and Errikson Hypnotherapist, as well as a Results Coach & Performance Consultant.

Pauline sees men, women, singles or couples who are experiencing challenges in any areas to do with intimacy and sex, along with relationships and everything in between. She has been working as an Intimacy and Sex Coach, and a Sexual Educator for approximately 5-years.

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Dr Janet Hall – Clinical Psychologist, Hypnotherapist, Author and Professional Speaker:

Having a strong erection instils a man with sexual confidence and personal power. Not having that control often makes him feel like a sexual failure and can make him, and his partner, physically, mentally and emotionally frustrated.

Men who have problems with getting and keeping an erection are likely to suffer from Performance Anxiety; the male ego depends so much on doing things well. Women have an advantage over men in that they can always fake an orgasm and don’t have to be publicly exposed as inadequate. Men, however, may feel exposed as sexual failures if they don’t have an erect penis.

It’s laughable that a man is commonly believed to be a sexual superstar.
In his classic book, Men and Sex, Bernie Zilbergeld says this is the supposed ideal standard for male sexual performance. ‘A penis is two-foot-long, hard as steel, stiff as a rod and can last all night.’


  • It’s normal for the penis to go up and down during a sexual encounter. For instance, many men lose their erection while giving oral sex.
  • If erection problems are caused by a medical condition, then Performance Anxiety may develop.
  • If you can obtain an erection at any other time than during intercourse, for example, when awakening in the morning or during masturbation, then the problem is probably psychological.


  • Avoiding sex ‘just in case’ your penis will not perform.
  • Feeling embarrassed, angry, inadequate and frustrated.
  • Trying to force yourself to ‘get it up’.
  • Shame about not performing.
  • Fears about being too old to have enjoyable sex.
  • Not feeling like a ‘real’ man.
  • Your partner is critical and fed-up.
  • Wanting it to just go away and procrastinating.
    No time/too busy to do anything about it.
  • Fear of therapy or treatment with medications and injections.
  • Embarrassment about and reluctance to masturbate.
  • Stress/illness/unhealthy lifestyle.


  • See your GP to be assessed for any possible physical reasons for the erectile problem.
  • Don’t avoid sex.
  • Enjoy alternatives to intercourse –take the pressure off.
  • Have sex without penetration.
  • Explore each other’s bodies and have fun.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
  • Reduce alcohol and increase exercise.
  • Learn the ‘stop/start’ technique.
  • Learn to relax and do deep continuous breathing.
  • Use positive self-talk and focus on feeling good and thinking positively.
  • Communicate with your partner about sex.
  • Ask your partner to assist you to get aroused and keep you aroused. (For example, let her know that men are typically visual – perhaps she can ‘dress up’ to arouse your interest.)


It’s important to discuss your erectile dysfunction (ED) with your partner and how ED is affecting each of you and your relationship. Just remember to be gentle on yourself and your partner, and welcome ED as a way that you can reassess your life and to focus your attention on what needs to change. While many people view ED as a bad situation, it can often be a good omen as it helps you to improve your relationship and sex life.

Janet HallDr Janet Hall is a Clinical Psychologist, Hypnotherapist, Author and Professional Speaker in Melbourne, Australia. She manages the Richmond Hill Psychology Clinic.

As a psychologist in private practice, Dr Jan specializes in relationship therapy, particularly sex therapy. She is also the author of eight books on family and relationship issues including, “Sex-Wise Teens” and “Sex-life Solutions”.

Dr Jan has created and produced the “Sensational Sex” audio and e-book series – nineteen topics on sexual issues ranging from sex therapy with hypnosis,
to sexual fantasies and strategies for “sparking up” your sex-life.

“A healthy sex life is the right of everyone,” says Dr Jan and she can help you with any sexual issue; from young couples and individuals learning about sex, intimacy, and relationships, right through to helping older individuals and established couples to enjoy the sensational sex that they deserve.

Dr Jan is a well-known and respected public speaker and a favourite with national media for comment on a diverse range of issues. She was the regular sex therapist on Channel 10 for the Sex-Life television program.

Lisa Hughes – Qualified Counsellor and NLP Master Practitioner:

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem. Not being able to get an erection in the bedroom when things get hot can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Even for the most experienced and sexually active guys, not knowing how to overcome it can easily lead to bigger problems in your relationship and yourself esteem.


So if you find that you or your partner are experiencing erectile dysfunction, don’t despair and reach for the medicine cabinet just yet. Keep in mind that there are only two ingredients necessary for an erection, these being to be aroused and to be relaxed. When one of those natural functions isn’t present then often erectile difficulties occur.


The importance of being relaxed is crucial to an erection as the root cause of stress is emotionally based. Therefore, in many cases, erectile dysfunction can be controlled by gaining insight to what triggers it, and understanding yourself better. This, in turn, will then enable you to come up with a strategy to modify your behaviour and break the pattern that leads to unhealthy stress.


Stress control can, and should, involve the body. Aerobic exercise is one approach to controlling stress.

Physical fitness helps improve both physical and mental fitness, and whole body health contributes to sexual health. Plus, it is important to keep your arteries and nerves healthy and to maintain good circulation so that you prevent damage later on. You can also learn to use your mind to relax your body. Yoga is a great exercise for both the mind and the body if you include meditation at the end of your session, even if only for five minutes.


A relaxed body will, in turn, send signals of calm and control that help reduce mental tension. In fact, I can recall a client who was experiencing ED. He was working up to 60-hours per week, commuting up to 3-hours a day and had high blood pressure. His relationship with his wife was suffering both in a physical and emotional sense, and they wanted to make changes.

After discussing their lifestyle with them, I suggested that they make time to exercise together and that they give each other a massage every week. I also suggested that he listen to personal development courses on his commute to work, which would allow him to think differently about his life.

Over time, this approach dramatically shifted his mind set. Before long his erectile dysfunction had disappeared and his personal and working life began to be transformed.


It’s important to discuss your erectile dysfunction (ED) with your partner and how ED is affecting each of you and your relationship. Just remember to be gentle on yourself and your partner, and welcome ED as a way that you can reassess your life and to focus your attention on what needs to change. While many people view ED as a bad situation, it can often be a good omen as it helps you to improve your relationship and sex life.

Lisa Hughes InShapeLisa Hughes is a qualified counsellor and NLP Master Practitioner that specialises in helping men and women overcome any blocks that stop them from having a great sex life. She has helped hundreds of men and women who have experienced sexual abuse or trauma to feel greater love, connection and intimacy in their lives. Lisa is also the creator and of the revolutionary and award-winning “Be Be” vibrator, the first of its kind to be non-phallic in shape, and designed by women, for women. The Be Be vibrator has paved the way for a whole new category of sex toys.

Married for over 23 years with two teenage daughters, Lisa loves yoga, the great outdoors and sex. She can be contacted for coaching and counselling at lisa@lovebeingwoman.com. Her online shop for the Be Be and other love potions are available at www.lovebeingwoman.com.


Tanya Koens – Sexologist and Passionate Advocator of Positive Sexual Relationships:

 When it comes to Erections – Relaxation is Sexy!

There are many times in my working week where I am sitting across from an anxious penis owner.  Very often they are concerned because their penis is not doing what they think it should be doing – and herein lies the problem, the thinking!

I really do think good sex is all about coming out of the head and into the body.  When we start to worry about things, our brain immediately obliges by giving us the stressful feelings that would accompany the event if it were really occurring;  that hardly seems fair, does it?

And it’s the thinking that leads us all into the dark alleyways of expectations, distress, fear, panic and disappointment.  Wouldn’t it be great to get into sexy times without having to worry or take these things into account?

Strangely enough, we have all the tools to enable us to do just that.

We can use our breath to take the focus from our head – full of worries and fears – and into our body – where there are pleasurable sensations and feelings to be had.

Sounds cliche, but relaxation really helps.  When we are anxious we tend to shallow breathe and that signals the Sympathetic Nervous System to fire up.  This nerve is the one we rely on when we need to fight a Sabre-Tooth Tiger or the equivalent.  It turns off the logical part of the brain, stops our digestion and our sexual arousal; because you don’t need those things if you are going to fight a Sabre-Tooth Tiger.  Instead, adrenaline will start coursing to help us with the fight-flight-freeze response.  When we have finished dealing with the situation we’re in, what is the first thing that we will do? Typically, we’ll take a deep breath. Yeah that’s right, it is a downregulation and it lets the Parasympathetic Nervous System come into play; that’s the one that gives us our logical brain back, our digestion and, importantly, our sexual arousal.  So when I say relaxation is important, there are biological back-ups to validate that argument.

Sometimes, as people are talking about their fears and concerns, I will get them to take a couple of deep breaths and ask them to tell me where in their body they are feeling the stress.  Many people are not able to answer the question initially, but on scanning the body, they can get an idea of places that feel ‘tight’, ‘tingly’ or ‘closed’ or ‘just weird’.

Conversely, when people are telling me that they can’t get aroused and that they feel nothing, I will check to see if they are indeed feeling nothing or whether it is a case of them not feeling what they expect to feel?  If they are looking for a particular type of feeling, we may have a talk about cake, yeah cake!

You see, cake can come in many different forms and shapes, various flavours, and some cakes use different ingredients and cooking methods.  It may be that they have been eating just one type of cake.  What other types of cake could they be interested in?  The same parallels can be made with arousal.  It may be that they expect to be touched in a certain way or aroused as part of a routine.  Our job is to be curious and contemplate what else is possible. Therefore, we need to open up and explore the different arousal possibilities.  Being open is when coaching on tuning into two different types of touch, different parts of the body and different environments can be very useful.

Arousal can come in various forms.  It can be psychogenic – nerve impulses that originate from the brain, or it can be reflexonic – resulting from genital stimulation.

Many things can interfere with arousal and erectile function, These being:

  • Organic influences (from the body or medication)
  • Damage to nerves
  • Illnesses like MS or Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol, street drugs, anti-depressants
  • Cholesterol
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Spinal injuries

There can be interpersonal contributors or you may find that you are experiencing:

  • Grief/anxiety/stress
  • Shame (sex/body/penis)
  • Worried about partner’s attitude
  • Partner’s actual attitude
  • Lack of skills/education

With some coaching, a large number of people can learn to relax, down-regulate and tune into their bodies. This behaviour, in turn, then allows them to achieve some surprisingly sexy results while simultaneously dealing with any number of the above issues.

Tanya Koens is a well-known and regarded sexologist who runs Surry Hills Therapy, a busy practice in Sydney’s Surry Hills. With postgraduate qualifications in counselling and sexual health, Tanya is a passionate advocator of positive sexuality and relationships. Tanya’s emphatic, non-judgmental ways enable her to connect warmly with people and help them with relationship and sexual issues. Tanya sees clients, runs supervision groups/sessions and helps train professions on how to talk about sex with their clients.

Disclaimer: The author’s professional and personal knowledge, and opinion, form the basis of this column. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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