Not all men can always. But the image of the always horny, always willing man makes it difficult for those affected to talk about it.
Especially among young men, impotence is a big taboo Photo: dpa
"I was disgusted by myself".
A few years ago, I once had sex with a fellow student and had erectile dysfunction. Later she used it against me, made fun of me. At one point she even told a fellow student. Those two were the ones closest to me at the university. My erectile dysfunction suddenly became a topic in our group chats. Together they made fun of it. I was bullied by them.
This event traumatized me a bit. I couldn’t get involved in serious relationships until recently. On the one hand, this led to self-confidence problems, and on the other hand, I was disgusted by myself. I had doubts about myself because my body was not able to do something as natural as reproduce. My sex drive was also affected by this, I no longer had any desire. There is enough pressure on men even without such experiences: we have to be highly potent. If then a personal affliction is added to that, it becomes quite stressful.
I can talk about erectile dysfunction with good friends. And it helps to realize that you’re not alone, that this happens more often than you think. But I have never been able to tell anyone that I was bullied because of erectile dysfunction. I just repressed it, and wanted to put it behind me as much as possible. And if I do talk about it at some point, I want to have processed it completely in case there are reactions that might be uncomfortable.
A big step in processing it for me was music. I make rap, and a lot of my tracks are about that. Silence doesn’t help, it eats into you.Philipp, 21, student and rapper from Cologne
"She’s there for the stiff penis".
Sexual anxiety is something I think almost every man has, even if many don’t want to admit it. Many men always brag about how good they are in bed, how often and how long they can do it. Most of the time, that’s a lie.
I had surgery eight years ago, because of cancer I had a testicle removed. Since then, sex for me is not like it was before. I’m not constantly afraid that it might not work with the erection – sometimes it still doesn’t work, especially with one-night stands. Actually, they almost always go badly. With the partners I know and with whom I have a personal relationship, it works better. Trust is important there.
After my surgery, I did not have a steady partner for two years, but changed partners frequently. Among other things, I slept with a woman with whom I had had a relationship in the past. After the surgery, I had erection problems even with her. But we knew each other for a long time, and she was always understanding, so I didn’t feel so bad.
Before sex, I’m usually preoccupied with the thoughts that it might not work this time either, and I imagine how I can prevent it. After all, the penis is not a magic wand, does not go up and down as you want. I try to concentrate extra hard and stay on task. If I can’t get an erection, I just stop.
The problem is, you can’t do much more than conventional sex, where the penis penetrates the vagina, with strangers. If you have your steady partner in bed, then okay. But a strange woman certainly does not come over for fingering or pussy licking. She is there for the stiff penis.
Ringo, 32, freelancer from Gelsenkirchen
"Impotence is a taboo"
My impotence has always defined me in life. That, and the feeling of not being able to perform as expected.
I have always been shy, but impotence has intensified my shyness. In some situations, you are in competition with other men who are aggressive or have more pronounced hunting behavior. These men are noticed more, thus women get used to them and their behaviors. It’s no wonder. They get used to men showing their interest aggressively. If a normal conversation is held that is not so offensive, it can be misinterpreted as disinterest.
Friedrich, 24, student
"I don’t necessarily have people around me who can be trusted with something like this. I would be happy to talk about it if I knew I wouldn’t be ridiculed"
One time I met a woman who really wanted to get laid. However, I told her beforehand that it wasn’t necessarily that easy with me. She insisted. And when that didn’t work, she expressed her disappointment. That hurt me quite a bit.
The fear of failing affected me. But the development of erectile dysfunction medications has given my self-confidence a boost. Unfortunately, there are so many jokes made about these drugs. It really makes me want to puke. I’ve been wishing for a long time to bring the issue out in the open and stand by it. But I never dared to say, "I’m impotent, and these drugs help me." Without them, I could never fuck, and I wouldn’t have children. Although it would be urgently necessary, I could not even make it public among my friends until now.
Talking about impotence is a taboo, and it needs to be de-tabooed. It is not talked about enough. If at some point a few celebrities came forward with their impotence, that would help to de-taboo it. As well as with the whole identity and gender issues.
Marek, 50, programmer from Hanover
"Penetration can be painful"
The idea that men want to have sex all the time already led to problems for me. If a man doesn’t want to have sex, it’s even sometimes used against him, because the woman might assume that the man has already satisfied his need with someone else.
At some point, my girlfriend felt like having sex and I didn’t. For various reasons, this did not go so well within the relationship. When I told her that I didn’t feel like it, she got jealous. She said things like "Men always want it, but you don’t want it with me. You must have had something with someone else." But that wasn’t true.
On top of that, I have a narrowing of the foreskin. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable. Penetration can be painful for me. I haven’t had many partners, but the ones I have had have been very understanding. It has to be communicated openly, but that is difficult. I can only do that if I’ve known the woman a little longer. When I’m single, I worry about approaching women because you always have to explain yourself anew.
If I can’t bring a woman to climax because of my foreskin constriction, I get annoyed, even if the woman is totally understanding. I feel like I haven’t performed as a man.
I’ve never talked to anyone about it because I don’t necessarily have people around me who can be trusted with something like this. I would be happy to talk about it if I knew I wouldn’t be ridiculed. Men can always talk about sexuality, but only if there’s something boastful about it. Not if you admit to a weakness. It’s because of gender roles: The man does the performing, and the woman is the trophy.