It’s the big unspoken secret.

There is a real sadness many men (and their partners) have about the waning state of their erections, be it due to aging or other challenges in their relationships. Many men will blow it off by feigning a new disinterest in sex. And some really are less interested than ever before with many biochemical and emotional changes at work.

Sometimes men begin to avoid sexual situations all together because they fear embarrassment, more shame, and guilt that they can’t please their partner the way they think he or she wants to be pleased. That potential humiliation is enough to shut a man down sexually. And if he shuts down, often, his partner will shut down too. And that’s really no fun. The partner may also feel angry, frustrated, lonely and resentful towards him for abandoning their sexual life, wanting some of that juicy sexiness back. And there is no reason why you can’t reclaim it.

For many men, their sexual prowess is built on having big erections and hard cocks with which to please their partners. When their erections become elusive, a deep shame can creep in that separates a man from his partner and inhibits sex. The really sad part is that this situation could do just the opposite and bring lovers closer together if they are able to communicate honestly and create solutions.

My co-author Kurt Brungardt and I wrote about this in Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men; the idea that it’s actually very freeing for men to let go of their cocks being at the center of the game. Men who learn to use their fingers, hands, mouths and brains in sex will be far less destabilized when erectile difficulties crop up. They know they have many tools of pleasure at the ready and they will use them rather than the alternative: avoiding sex altogether.

This is not to say there won’t be a sense of loss for many men as things in their bodies and sexual functioning change. Sometimes there is a real loss to grieve and it’s important to get support for those feelings. On some level, we all experience loss as we age and our sexual functioning changes. Rather than getting stuck in our guilt, fears, or sadness about it we can work towards embracing change and our new life stage.

I know that’s not what a lot of people want to hear. This is part of the denial that fuels Viagra sales. Viagra may be right for some people in some situations, but more important is to work on what’s contributing to erectile difficulties and the feelings and reactions men and their partners have when they come up.

When a man and his partner handle erectile difficulties with grace, new ideas for pleasure open up and more sexual fulfillment is possible. Sometimes, dare I say, better than before. And sometimes, the erections come back. Win. Win. So why not tackle it head on?

What is your experience with the elusive erection? I’d love to hear you chime in on this.