Are You Flaccid or is That PTSD in Your Pants?
***I will be discussing PTSD, Depression, Suicide and a very brief mention of Child Sexual Assault. Please make sure you are in a good place, both mentally, and physically when you read this. ***
Good morning, my name is Herne. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to contribute to Sexpert.com. I say lucky because I have no formal training or higher education related to this site, no letters after my name and I still get to work with so many amazing people who are doing important work.
Now do not get me wrong, I have plenty experience in life, love, relationships and sex. I have been married for about 25 years, have teenagers who have had their own dating and relationship woes and have found myself as a sounding board for a great number of my friends and family.
I am a retired Military Vet and a former Police Detective who specialized in Special Victim Cases, mostly Child Sexual Assault and Child Pornography. I have talked to more than my fair share of perverted people, they were just the bad perverts, not the good perverts like you and me. So, I am here to add my blue-collar voice on a variety of topics.
I am a work boots and blue jeans wearing, small town living, incredibly handsome guy who used to be ignorant about a great many things; however, I have met people who have trusted me, shared painful experiences with me, taught me and helped me realize the world was bigger than me.
PTSD and Your Penis … No, This is Not a Buddy Cop Movie
Today I would like to talk to you about one of my favorite topics, my penis. Well, not just mine, but that’s the one I have the most experience with. Specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its effects on our sex lives and by extension, our partners lives.
Part one of this article will talk about how PTSD, and related issues, can cause Erectile Dysfunction (ED). I’ll tell you how my wife and I handled it, things we tried, and what people who know a heck of a lot more than me say.
Part 2 will go to the other extreme and we will discuss hypersexuality and risk taking caused by PTSD.
Part 1: Erectile Dysfunction
Between my deployments and seeing graphic images of Child Sexual Abuse, I began to retreat within myself. I began having nightmares and being hyper-vigilant and angry; however, I never had issues with my erections, until I did.
I can still remember the first time as if it were yesterday. I walked out of the bathroom, and my wife made a comment that was supposed to be sexy, but I had heard a similar comment by one of my “customers” before he would hurt children. I lost my erection faster than a politician takes a bribe. I thought I could fix it, maybe some foreplay would help, but nothing worked that night. I will tell you, that night broke me.
One of the worst things about ED is that often it is mental[i]. Failure to get erect once will make you stress about it the next time, which makes it more likely you will not be able to get hard again. When you fail again, it starts all over, and over, and over, worse each time. Luckily, I had an amazing partner who never blamed me, belittled me, or pressured me.
Lying Just Makes Things Harder, and Softer
In the meantime, I was walking around like Mark Ruffalo about to turn into the Hulk. I was always angry. You will hear people with PTSD say they feel like they go from 1 to 10 on the anger scale at the drop of a hat. Truth is, many of us walk around at 8, but since we are always at 8, that is our new baseline. Clearly, 8 to 10 is not a big jump.
Because of my anger, my crying while I was alone in my car, and my refusal to go anywhere but work and home, my wife convinced me to go see someone. Looking back, this was one of the Top 5 things she has ever done for me, but as usual, I made a mistake that I hope whoever is reading this does not make.
The doc diagnosed me with depression and anxiety. As he was talking about medication, he asked me about any sexual issues such as ED. I proudly told him no, everything was working great. I put on a performance like Jennifer Lopez in the movie Gigli. Honestly, I should have won an Oscar for how believable I was.
If there is one thing I can talk about, it’s my little man and I would be damned if I told this shrink (no pun intended), I could not get it up. I was a rough, tough killer, I had been to war and back. I am pretty sure I even offered to show him my little warrior at one point. The point is, I lied.
I guess you can imagine what happened next. My libido dropped and if I thought I was flaccid before; my little mister was like a turtle in the middle of the highway. He was stuck in his shell and nothing brought him out.
Friends, if you don’t know or haven’t heard, a great many medications can cause low libido and interfere with erections[ii]. Now, remember that vicious cycle I talked about earlier, add in a medicine whose side effects made sex as interesting to me as staring at a beige ceiling, and it was miserable. So, what changed?
There is Help, You Just Have to Reach Out
To be blunt, I tried to kill myself. Not over my ED, but my PTSD was getting worse and worse and I was lying about how great the medicine was for my mental health. I kept heading downhill until my wife walked in the bedroom one evening right before I was about to take several handfuls of pills. She did not realize what was going on at the time. After she left the room, I knew I could not do it.
The next day I went to see my “Crazy Doctor”, also known as a psychiatrist. I was hospitalized for the next 45-ish days. While I was in the hospital, I finally told the truth about how the medicine was affecting me, my moods, my thoughts, and my junk. Being in a hospital is a great place to try different medications because I was safe. When I say safe, we could not wear shoes with laces, which is why we called them “Danger Shoes”, and they were locked away. We tried different combinations of meds until we found one that I was stable on.
On a side note, if you have not tried therapy because you think it’s “stoopid” or makes you look “weak” or will not work, please slap yourself. Good, now slap yourself one more time and then listen up. THERAPY WORKS!!!
I cannot tell you how much I hated myself, how worthless I felt and how much of a failure I thought I was. If you do not believe that way of thinking has any effect on your Lincoln Log, you are kidding yourself.
A study on PTSD and Sexual Dysfunction found that “particular PTSD clusters and symptoms have been studied, and it was hypothesized that autonomic arousal, anger/hostility, emotional numbing/avoidance symptoms, and chronic autonomic arousal and intrusive symptoms were mostly associated with sexual problems among veterans with PTSD. “[iii]
During my time in the hospital, I saw a bunch of battle hardened, jaded, angry young men cry like babies, but after a few weeks of alternating between anger and tears, we started smiling and joking with each other. Then one day in the shower, I was washing Mr. Tiny and he turned into Mr. Not-as-Tiny, and even though we were not supposed to “engage in any sexual activity”, I rode that little guy for all he was worth! What was the difference? My thought patterns. I was dealing with my anger, guilt and lack of self-worth. I stopped hating myself and started to accept what I had seen and done.
Intimacy then Sex
When I got home, my wife and I went to see a marriage counselor. We had a lot to work out to be able to be truly intimate. A true relationship is a team event, I do not care if you are taking on the local rugby team or one quiet, tiny submissive. If all parties are not consenting (even consensual non-consent), it will be a bad day for someone.
It took us both to work on our intimacy and my penis (pun intended). She was supportive and understanding and times when instead of saluting her beauty, my delicate dude went into turtle mode, she told me it was ok and started kissing me and she was kind enough to let me pleasure her.
Side Note: People, if you have not taken time to pleasure your partner without expecting anything back, you are missing out. That simple exercise helped us tremendously. Remove the pressure and you will be surprised what works.
If you are reading this and are thinking you have PTSD and have no issues with ED, it may only be a matter of time. According to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine “by some estimates, nearly one in five U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. And the majority of these veterans-those age 40 or below, who are in the prime of their sexual lives—face an 81 percent higher risk of sexual problems than those without a PTSD diagnosis, further research released last year in the same journal suggests a stronger link: Servicemen with probable PTSD were 29 times as likely as those without PTSD to report ED. Among men with genital injuries, for comparison, the risk of ED went up only nine-fold.”[iv]
What Works to Make it Work?
I can hear you already saying “Herne, cut to the chase man, what worked”. Understanding from myself and forgiveness for myself. Communication and patience from my partner.
Dr. Benjamin Breyer, a researcher based out of UC San Francisco stated, “educating patients and trying to remove the stigmas associated with sexual dysfunction is important so people who suffer from sexual dysfunction actually get treatment.”[v] Author and Mental Health researcher Rachael Yehuda said “Explaining the biological connection between PTSD and low libido or difficulty with intimacy can also help partners or spouse support a loved one who is experiencing sexual dysfunction.”
Antidepressants have helped tremendously, even knowing the side effects, they are worth it to me. PTSD does not heal itself; you may limp (ok, pun intended) along coping with life, but that’s not really living.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can help you regain a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy but can also include medication. Combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms.”[vi]
On the mechanical side, I learned that foreplay helped me immensely. Focusing on my spouse helped take the focus and pressure off of me. I took Viagra as well, just remember, if you are battling PTSD or Depression, no amount of Viagra alone will help. According to healthline.com “Viagra does not work on its own, you still need to feel sexually aroused to get an erection.”[vii]
I have used a penis pump as well. Now, you have to be very careful with these, you can’t slap it on and just start pumping yourself because you can cause some serious damage. If you really want to torture yourself, google penis pump accidents and read some horror stories.
In addition to using a penis pump, you need a way to keep the blood in your penis, so I chose to use a c-ring, also known as a constriction ring or a cock ring. The pump helps pull blood into your penis and the ring helps keep it there.[viii]
***NOTICE*** I am not giving you ANY medical advice; I am telling what worked for me. These things can go wrong very quickly and by wrong, I mean you can potentially lose your penis. I had a doctor who was cooler than the other side of the pillow and I was able to talk to him about these things. Make sure to see a doctor, health professional, sexpert, or expert before you try a penis pump, c-ring, or similar erection assistant.
At the end of the day, if you have untreated PTSD or depression, nothing you do physically/mechanically to get an erection will help or at least not for long. I cannot stress enough that you need to get help.[ix]
As much as I enjoy sex and being intimate with my wife, and yes, they are different, I would have neither if I had killed myself. If you get appropriate help, the intimacy can come back and the sex will follow. If you are getting help for your mental health and you are stable, ask your doctor about ways to help ED. Changing medications or a combination of medications can help. Viagra, or Cialis, or something similar may be what you need, but these are secondary to you being in the right mind.
Strength is Fighting When Your Demons Tell You to Lay Down
I have outlived my attempted death by 16 months. I still occasionally use Viagra, I occasionally use a cock ring, but more often, I slip in the sheets, I kiss and touch my wife, talk dirty, and enjoy her body and more often than not, my tiny Soldier man stands at attention.
I want to leave you with a final thought. I had a good friend who was a trans woman. She was in the Army with me and she taught me a lot about myself and how to see others. She changed me into a better person and for the better.
She got out of the Army and battled her demons until she could no longer fight. Three years ago, she took her life. She would always tell me “Every day, you have to wake up and fight your fight. Every night when you go to bed, you won, so be a winner for those around you!” She had a lot of fight, more than I will ever know. She still won because I am here, and I am passing on what I have learned to you.
Remember, be a winner for those around you.
National Suicide Hotline:
available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website:
For the hearing-impaired TTY at: 1-800-799-4889
The veterans suicide hotline (Veterans Crisis Line):
available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
1-800-273-8255, press 1 or text to 838255
online chat: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Suicide Hotline (the Trevor Lifeline):
available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-866-488-7386
TrevorChat: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now(Available 7 days a week (3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PT).)
TrevorText: Text the word “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200 (Available on Fridays (4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT)
Teen suicide hotline (Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline):
available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Thursday’s Child website
You Matter website:
Christian Suicide Prevention website:
The International Association for Suicide Prevention:
Herne is retired from the Military and is known by his wife as an expert on premature ejaculation and crying. During his time in the Military, Herne worked with a closeted transwoman who became his best friend. She taught him life was not black and white unless you want it to be. Herne took this and ran with it and learned about all the beautiful colors and shades out there and that there are even more to see, and that’s pretty darn cool! Herne also spent time as Detective working on special victim crimes. Between his time in the Military and time as a Cop, he began to suffer from PTSD and Depression, which lead to a suicide attempt. Hospitalization and counseling have given him an insight into life, how important love and understanding are, and how this can affect a relationship and sex life. Herne is your everyman, but an everyman with a mission to understand and to teach. He had a good friend who once told him “Every day you have to wake up and fight your fight. Every night when you go to bed, you won, so be a winner for those around you!”. Tonight, I am going to bed a winner.
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[i] Sher, D., “Psychological Impotence: Diagnosis, Causes, and Treatments”, 19 Nov 2019, Between Us Clinic, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.betweenusclinic.com/mental-impotence/psychological-impotence-diagnosis-causes-and-treatments/
[ii] Prabhakar, D., “How do SSRIs cause sexual dysfunction”, 9 Dec 2010, MDEdge.com, retrieved 24 June 2020 from https://www.mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/64123/depression/how-do-ssris-cause-sexual-dysfunction
[iii] Letica-Crepulja, M., Stevanovic, A., Protuder, M., et al, “Predictors of Sexual Dysfunction in Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, 29 Mar 2019, National Center for Biotechnology Information, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518171/
[iv] Zavislak, Z and Tedesco, L., “How PTSD Can Lead to Sexual Dysfunction”, 21 Apr 2015, Men’s Health, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19538285/ptsd-causes-sexual-dysfunction/
[v] “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”, 6 Jul 2018, The Mayo Clinic, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355973
[vi] “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”, 6 Jul 2018, The Mayo Clinic, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355973
[vii] Jewell, T., “How Long Does Viagra Last?”; 15 Jun 2020, Healthline, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/how-long-does-viagra-last#when-it-starts-working
[viii] Roland, J., “Penis Pumps: How to Use, Where to Buy, and What to Expect”, 19 Apr 2018, Healthline, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/how-to-use-a-penis-pump
[ix] Lo, M., “Can Untreated Complex PTSD Kill or Become Life-Threatening?”, Traumatized Auspie, retrieved 24 Jun 2020 from https://traumatizedaspie.com/complex-ptsd-if-left-untreated/
Original article at https://www.sexpert.com/are-you-flaccid-or-is-that-ptsd-in-your-pants/
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