Barry from Santa Monica, CA was an athlete in high school. When he wasn’t putting on muscle mass as fast as some of the other guys on the team, he “cheated” and used anabolic steroids. He says he didn’t feel any side effects then. So, at age 23, he did another “round” of steroids to enhance his body image. Now he’s 25 and he’s having “a lot of trouble getting and maintaining an erection.” This causes him anxiety, which makes the problem worse.
Barry, you’ve fallen into a trap that is affecting hundreds of thousands of other men. Like you, these guys are unwittingly compromising their sexual health and their fertility in their quest for bigger muscles, better athletic performance, or (ironically) better sex.
As you know now from your own experience, when you jack up your testosterone levels with steroids, sure, you get bigger muscles, but you also get smaller, softer testicles and, in the end, lower testosterone levels. Adding extra testosterone tricks the brain. Sensing the high levels, the brain shuts down testosterone production and sperm production, both of which happen in the testicles.
The result? The testicles shrink, soften, and the man’s fertility plummets. He may also, as you are discovering, have problems getting and keeping an erection.
Your case is interesting because you say the last time you used the steroids was two years ago. By this time your body should have pretty much returned to normal…your testosterone levels and sperm counts ought to be OK…and so should your erections. So there may be more going on here than just physiology.
Lots of guys know that if they have one instance where they can’t get it up, or their erection flags early, they get anxious about it. That’s “performance anxiety” and it can be a serious issue because it’s self-reinforcing. You fail once, you get nervous. You get nervous, the blood supply to the penis gets constricted, which makes it more difficult—or impossible—to get an erection.
What you’ve got to do is go see a physician and get your testosterone level checked…as well as getting a general physical to rule out any other reasons you might be having erection problems. If everything checks out normal, then your erection problems have more to do with anxiety.
Just talking with a physician about this may help relieve your mind. But you can also work on relaxing when it comes to sex. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, but if you have a partner who is relaxed as well, you should find that erections arrive naturally. Or you could turn to an erection-enhancing drug, but then you risk becoming psychologically dependent on the pills, which, for a guy your age, would be a shame.
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