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Please include your age and gender with your questions, and we will answer them here as wisely as we can.
I’ve been having trouble keeping my erection lately, so I went to my doctor for advice. She said “You’re 53 years old! What do you expect?” And then she wrote me a prescription for Viagra ™. I’m afraid to try it because I don’t like to take any drugs. What else can I do?
A healthy erection arises when your active masculine ‘Shiva’ energy is aroused by receptive feminine ‘Shakti’ energy. This polarity motivates the entire creative force of the universe.
You are not alone: almost every man experiences erectile difficulties at some point in his life. In fact, this is one of the most common questions we’re asked about in our medical practice, by both men and their partners. Your doctor’s comment about your age reflects the truth that male virility naturally decreases with age. However, most healthy men remain virile and sexually potent into their 80s and beyond. The common myth that “male potency peaks at around age 18” is complete nonsense.
Your body, mind and spirit must coordinate multiple factors to create a healthy sustained erection. First, you feel the pull of Shakti’s attractive polarity. Next, your brain sends a cascade of hormonal and neurological signals to your heart and genitals to increase blood flow to and inhibit outflow from the penis. This causes engorgement of the penis and the hard penetrating erection needed for intercourse and fertility. Anything that interrupts these pathways will cause your erection to waver and soften.
Erectile difficulties often reflect core identity issues of shame, masculinity and fear of aging. Your masculine identity is profoundly tied to your virility and erectile ability. Our language reflects this: To “testify” literally means to “swear by one’s testicles”. Before Viagra™ was introduced in 1998 this was a taboo subject. We can thank pharmaceutical companies’ marketing for making male erection an accepted topic of conversation.
First, you and your health care provider should investigate and correct possible medical issues contributing to the problem, including vascular and neurologic disease, diabetes, spinal cord issues and hormonal imbalance or testosterone deficiencies. Many prescription and recreational drugs, especially alcohol, blood pressure medicine and anti-depressants can also inhibit erectile function. It’s also important to recognize that not all practitioners are comfortable discussing sexuality, which may explain your doctor’s reflex prescribing of a “pill for the ill”.
On the emotional level: Are you attracted to your partner? Does your partner ‘light your fire’? What can you do to increase the polarity and attraction between you?
On the physical level, do you experience spontaneous nocturnal erections? If you do, this probably indicates that your hormonal, vascular and neurologic pathways are intact, and that the problem is most likely emotion based.
How is your libido in general? If it’s diminished, you may have testosterone deficiency. This common problem can often be corrected by stimulating your body’s natural production of testosterone by improving your aerobic fitness, reducing harmful emotional stress, and eating a well-balanced diet with lots of healthy protein, essential fatty acids and trace minerals. Herbs and supplements such as maca, ginseng and arginine may be helpful. Even patented drugs such as Viagra™ have appropriate use and value as they inhibit blood flow out of the penis once your erection is established.
Whatever is causing your problem, here are some practical ideas that can enhance your sexual experience. When your erection wavers stay connected with your partner! Don’t get lost in feelings of separation, inadequacy and shame. Gaze deeply into your partner’s eyes, breathe together and express your love and devotion. Stay inside your partner even when you are soft. Your “soft on” is just as sensitive as your hard on. It’s the yin (receptive) aspect of your yang (expressive) identity, and allows you to absorb feminine essence through your penis. Pleasure your partner with your fingers, mouth and other erotic parts until she gets turned on. Her arousal will recall your Shiva energy and restore your erection.
Focus on presence and connection rather than goal orientation and climax. It’s important to go with the natural ebb and flow of your shared erotic pleasure. Kabbalist wisdom teaches that the white spaces between the letters reveal life’s deepest mysteries. So it is also in the enlightenment found in the magical, still moments between thrusts. Healthy sexuality blends giving and receiving, action and stillness into luscious cycles of divine delight. So may it be for you and for all lovers everywhere.
Howard W Morningstar, MD, is a family physician, herbalist and tantra educator.
Rabbi Sue Morningstar is a midwife, women’s health nurse practitioner and spiritual counselor.
The Morningstars, lovers for 40 years, combine over 60 years of professional experience in holistic medicine at Morningstar Healing Arts, their Ashland, Oregon family practice and healing center.
This information is not a substitute for personalized medical care. Please consult your healthcare provider before acting on any of the information presented here.