3 min

Overcoming a limp dick

Dear Dr Ren,

I’m what would be referred to as a gentlemen of a certain age. I have diabetes and haven’t had an erection for almost a decade, even with Viagra.

I had accepted this state of affairs, but now a new man has come into my life and turned everything upside down. I’ve been stalling on letting it just get sexual, but eventually he’ll discover the truth.

Will anything help me?

— Old and Limp


Diabetes is a cruel disease, affecting many body functions, including the circulatory system. The tiny nerves and vessels in the penis necessary to effect erections are often involved and, as you have learned, are resistant even to drugs such as Viagra and physical stimulation. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that sex involves so much more than our genitals.

In a perfect world, none of us would have to worry about the dysfunction of any body part, or any emotional distress, or any concern about our lover’s lack of reciprocation of feeling or… you get my drift.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

When you were young and healthy you no doubt had to juggle social and work demands. Perhaps you worried about your lack of sexual experience or knowledge. Maybe you were fortunate enough to have mated well and early, but lost your love to death or divorce and found yourself back in the single world.

Wherever we are, there are challenges to overcome. Yours now is your aging body.

What is more a problem for you than your limp dick is your long absence from sexual awareness. You’ve gotten accustomed to profound celibacy.

You tell me that you have accepted your lack of erections for a decade. I wonder if that means you have also given up fantasy, desire and touch. Have you forsaken your sexuality because your genitals no longer function as they once did?

This new man in your life, who has rekindled the desire so foreign to you, has challenged you to face this central issue. Hooray! 

Our brain is our largest and most powerful sexual organ. Long distance lovers can attest to the power of words to express emotions and sensuality when direct sexual contact is impossible. Temporary or permanent disability or recovery following surgery can also impose restrictions to direct sexual contact that lovers overcome.

In other words, genitals are only vehicles through which we express our sexuality. Granted, they are the Ferraris of sexual expression, but they are not our only method of transportation.

Consider the rapture of gazing deeply into the eyes of your lover, or the bliss of spending hours simply kissing, or the sensual ecstasy of touching skin to skin, eventually losing track of whose is whose? All of those delightful experiences happen without genitals.

After 10 years of living in a sexual and sensual desert, you have stumbled into a potential Eden. Hooray!

Who knows what you may learn about your body?

If you have a five cent tool, develop a million dollar tongue. Learn what other parts of your body respond well to touch.

Perhaps you love anal sex. Maybe you find the warmth of another body next to your own is comfort enough. You will not know until you try.

“But wait,” you cry, “what if this new man rejects me?”

Logically, that is unlikely. If he is as interested in you as you are in him, your attraction is based on far more than penile hydraulics. You are drawn to each other because of mutual interests, compatible values and physical attraction.

By the time you get naked, you will have had time to tell him that you have difficulty with erections. Perhaps he will have a physical limitation to reveal as well. The goal is to have fun and get close.

And what if he does?

You are already ahead. You have shaken the cobwebs off your sleeping sexuality and begun to re-examine the role of romance in your life. This particular lover may not be interested in accommodating your erectile dysfunction, but others will not be so particular.

You don’t tell me if you are a top or a bottom. You will need to look for a good fit regarding this dynamic. Hopefully you have a natural penchant for submissive behaviour, but even if this is not the case, your condition will dictate such accommodation. You can still be toppy in other sexual ways, but pining for insertive sex is futile now.

Still, intercourse is only one item on the menu of your sexual banquet. Be creative and open to experimentation and communication.

Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time to explore your possibilities and permission to develop a sexuality that works for you at this juncture in your life. You were clearly ready to come out of your self-imposed shell or you would not have recognized this new opportunity.

Don’t allow fear to hold you back now. Develop your fantasies, get massages to accustom yourself to the sensations of touch, push past your hesitations and grab whatever happiness you can find.