Can Hypnosis Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

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Erectile dysfunction is an embarrassing condition for men. It is frequently called impotence in spoken language. Fortunately, many men now realize that it is a medical problem that needs treatment.

Sildenafil/Viagra has revolutionized the treatment of erectile dysfunction. For the first time, there is an easy-to-use-pill, that helps in most of the cases. Nonetheless, even sildenafil fails to provide adequate benefit in a small number of cases, about 20% of the patients.

Causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) could be organic disease or phycological. Organic disease means the presence of some illnesses leading to ED like diabetes, severe cardiovascular disorder, and so on.  Substance abuse also falls into this category; ED is more common in those who drink too much alcohol or heavy smokers (1).

Pure psychogenic erectile dysfunction is due to adverse sexual experiences, problems with a partner, lower self-esteem. Sometimes it may occur due to reasons not concerned with sex-life like severe stress at a job (2).

Regretfully, most doctors have a habit of focusing more on the physical causes of ED, and they do not try enough to interpret emotional reasons. However, research shows that most cases of ED are a mix of organic disease and psychological issues.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

History of hypnosis in clinical use is full of ups and downs. Although it is an old science, it was Austrian physician Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) who is better known for establishing it as a science. Nonetheless, many practitioners of medical science continue to negate its efficacy (3).

There are many forms of hypnosis. A specialist can do hypnosis, or there is also a self-hypnosis. Almost every one of us engages in self-hypnosis from time to time with the help of positive/negative self-suggestions. New technology has added other methods to it like hypnosis via the internet, and so on.

Hypnosis is proven to work in certain conditions like addiction, pain, sleep disorders. It may even help in non-pathological situations to better the performance. It may help in psychogenic ED.

There are several elements of hypnosis. Every hypnosis starts with the suggestion, followed by the focus of attention. Either person can strongly focus on self-suggestion. Or hypnotist may implant additional thoughts when a person is intensely focused. Once the person is focused, the relaxation phase starts, and the person begins wandering deeper into his or her feelings – in this phase, the hypnotist may find deep and hidden causes of concern (3).

The use of imagery is another method that can lead a person into a hypnotic trance and out of it. Imagery may also help a person overcome specific psychological issues.

Hypnosis for ED

Hypnosis works, though finding the right specialist could be an issue. There are not many masters of this science available, regretfully.

In modern science, hypnosis is as a part of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy has certain benefits over pharmacological therapy that it does not involve the use of substances and thus is safer for body organs. All psychotherapies include overcoming the resistance, and the embedding the solution in a person’s mind (4).

Difficulty with psychotherapy is that many people are resistant to it. Most just do not want to accept that they have specific mental issues; they find it embarrassing to admit. Individuals do not wish to share their deep-rooted thoughts and emotions with anyone. However, opening up to the psychotherapist is the key. Hypnosis works so well in many cases as it helps overcome that initial resistance more readily.

Aim of hypnosis or any other psychotherapy is to help a person communicate better, help overcome psychological barriers towards sex, overcome anxiety and fears, learn to develop realistic goals, and help regain the feeling of self-confidence (5, 6).

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Evidence in Favor of Hypnosis

Researchers think that modern doctors focus too much on finding some underlying physical diseases in cases of ED. This has led to the neglect of the psychological causes of ED. That is why there is not even a precise classification of all the causes leading to ED.

Since most cases of ED have psychological reasons along with other diseases. Researchers recommend using a combination of medicines and psychotherapy, and hypnosis could be one option. A combination of various modalities means that hypnosis could be part of broader psychotherapy. Thus, a doctor may prescribe Viagra, help manage diabetes, invite a person with his or her partner for combined psychotherapy, and also use hypnosis.

There is enough evidence to say confidently that psychotherapy or hypnosis helps. Some of the large-scale systemic reviews of medical literature show that although drug therapy is excellent, the combination of drug therapy and hypnosis would be better. Hypnosis here is a part of a broader psychotherapy approach. Hypnosis will work better when combined with sildenafil. Hypnosis is not a substitute for pharmacological treatment, rather an additional method (7, 8).

When using hypnosis for erectile dysfunction, perhaps the most significant challenge could be finding a qualified therapist. One should avoid visiting self-proclaimed hypnosis therapists, as that may do more harm. In many cases, people visit these self-proclaimed gurus, and things get even worse for them due to negative experiences and financial losses.

Thus, a person living with ED must manage underlying disease conditions, take sildenafil for better and quick erection. At the same time, one should go for psychotherapy, with hypnosis as one of the ways.