This morning I read Dr. Mehmet Oz' message board at Oprah.com. A viewer there inquired whether men who become physically impotent generally also become "emotional vegetables". The answer is that this can occur but is not inevitable. Still this question prompts us to review some of the causes of ED, including prostate cancer and its treatment after-effects, and to address what men can do when impotence/ED leads them to become "emotional vegetables." What follows is a response I left at Dr. Oz' message board.
To say that many men with penile impotence (ED) become "emotional vegetables" is true at times. There are many causes of male impotence: medical conditions like diabetes that stop the flow of blood to the penile area; libido-lowering medications such as the hormone Lupron; alcohol; depression, or certain medical procedures like prostate cancer surgery (a radical prostatectomy) to remove a cancerous prostate, leaving 50% to 75% of men physically impotent. This in turn can create a man's loss of self-esteem and lead to further withdrawal from previously close relationships with his wife or partner.
When educated about medical means like Viagra, Caverject penile injections, or vacuum erection pumps (VED's) that can offset erectile dysfunction, 3/4 of these men will be able to have erections again and re-engage in sexual relations. Furthermore, after following psycho-social steps such as those in my book, Conquer Prostate Cancer, men can learn what women often know already: that manhood is defined by who you are and how you act, not how your body functions.
Men who follow these steps may have to retrain themselves, on their own or with professional guidance, to recognize that the crux of a husband-wife or partnership relationship is not "having sex" but rather, "making love" in every mutually acceptable way imaginable. This will help them retain the self-esteem and sexual intimacy they crave, so they don't become "emotional vegetables."