By Marc Braman, MD, MPH

MB (Marc Braman, MD, MPH):

What?! ED and the Spiritual Dimension? What does “spiritual” have to do with sex and the fact my erections don’t work right?

Actually, maybe a lot.

Throughout human history sex has more often than not been seen as a very spiritual thing. Whether that was because of reproduction and having children, pleasure, or any myriad of other reasons.

There is a “oneness” or unity of intercourse that has historically been seen as mystical or spiritual — a connectedness with others, nature, the universe. It has often been considered “sacred” and a lot of attention paid to it in different times and cultures to protect it and keep it special.

Where this gets really practical in today’s world, is when we understand that the spiritual dimension of our being has to do with who we are as people, our “being”, our value. And the “spiritual” is what gives us meaning and purpose in life.

So how does this apply?

Who are we? Is it a function of our sexual performance? Is our personhood defined by the size or function of our genitals? What if we can’t “perform”? What makes us us? What makes us valuable?

Have we experienced “grace” spiritually? Complete acceptance and unchangeable love as a person, despite all the flaws and whatever is or isn’t working sexually now or tomorrow. Which then puts us in a state and place where all the systems can work well for healthy sexual function.

How does sex fit in to the big picture? Is it all there is, making it the “ultimate” purpose of living? What if we have had sex with 1000 beautiful women, and on our deathbed no one cares about the 1000 beautiful women or us?

It turns out that when we are really “connected” relationally, good sexual function is the norm. And good sex should naturally make us feel more connected to our partner and a good universe.

Spirituality has a lot to do with morality and morals – good, bad, or otherwise. Our understanding of the nature of things, how we treat each other, what is acceptable and not acceptable.

Many would say that genuine healthy spirituality is about being altruistic or seeking to do good for others, make the world a better place, help those who need help, etc. It turns out, sex that is more about doing good to another, rather than taking what we can, is far more satisfying and sustainable. And we would also be in a good place to successfully raise the next sexually healthy generation.

Is life really primarily about having sex? Or about positive healthy connections and “being” whole and healthy — that also makes for really good sex?

A Research Note on the Influence of Relationship Length and Sex on Preferences for Altruistic and Cooperative Mates. Bhogal MS, Galbraith N, Manktelow K. Psychol Rep. 2018 Jan 1:33294118764640. doi:10.1177/0033294118764640.

Compassionate love as a mechanism linking sacred qualities of marriage to older couples’ marital satisfaction. Sabey, Allen K.,Rauer, Amy J.,Jensen, Jakob F. Journal of Family Psychology, Vol 28(5), Oct 2014, 594-603.

Spiritual Intimacy, Marital Intimacy, and Physical/Psychological Well-Being: Spiritual Meaning as a Mediator. Holland KJ, Lee JW, Marshak HH, Martin LR. Psycholog Relig Spiritual. 2016 Aug;8(3):218-227.

Mindful relating: exploring mindfulness and emotion repertoires in intimate relationships. Wachs K, Cordova JV. J Marital Fam Ther. 2007 Oct;33(4):464-81.

Marc Braman, MD, MPH

Dr. Braman is board certified in preventive medicine/public health and occupational/environmental medicine. He is founding member, second President and first Executive Director of American College of Lifestyle Medicine and founder and current president of the Lifestyle Medicine Foundation which created He provides lifestyle medicine care in a wide variety of settings as well as initiating efforts to establish professional standards for the field of lifestyle medicine and planning and conducting national professional conferences in lifestyle medicine.

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