Are you having trouble getting it up or down? You might be suffering from Hard Flaccid Syndrome. Find out how to fix it.
Hard Flaccid Syndrome (HFS) is a rare disorder where a man’s penis is constantly in a semi-erect, semi-flaccid state. At the height of sexual arousal, the condition prevents the penis from getting erect, often falling short of its true potential.
In the best-case scenario, the penis feels numb at rest. At worst, it is in constant pain.
What causes Hard Flaccid Syndrome, and is there anything you can do to fix it? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is Hard Flaccid Syndrome
HFS is a type of chronic pelvic pain that results from the penis being in a constant semi-rigid, semi-flaccid state. It feels firm to the touch even without sexual stimulation. Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, the prevailing belief is – it results from the contraction of penile smooth muscle. This, in turn, causes the penis to retract and harden.
Injury to the pelvic floor or tailbone, penile trauma, intense exercise, rough masturbation, and stress can each contribute to the development of the condition.
HFS doesn’t just affect the way the penis looks and feels at rest. It impacts an individual’s ability to get an erection, making it difficult to engage in penetrative intercourse. It also makes it difficult and painful to pass urine or have a bowel movement. Some men report having the sensation of a “golf ball” stuck in their rectum.
Unfortunately, some medical practitioners do not accord HFS the seriousness it deserves. A scholarly article published in the Basic Clinical Andrology states that the condition is “poorly recognized” in daily clinical practice and by the sexual medicine community at large.
Men with the condition end up consulting several specialists and going through a series of tests – all of which render normal results – before being dismissed with a prescription for pills that do nothing to resolve the problem. This can be stressful, confusing, and frustrating to men with HFS who don’t get a resolution for their ailment.
What you might not realize is – stress and anxiety can exacerbate the condition, leading to even more stress and anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle.
How Hard Flaccid Syndrome Affects Mental Health and Relationships
There are two subtypes of HFS. One is related to anxiety and blood flow, and the other involves pelvic floor muscle function.
The first type of HFS presents a little like erectile dysfunction, with a twist. Men with it display symptoms of anxiety, which leads to decreased blood flow to the penis over the course of several months or years. This changes its appearance. The more you worry about what might be going on down there, the more your arteries constrict, limiting the amount of blood flowing to the penile tissue.
The second type of Hard Flaccid Syndrome has less to do with anxiety and more to do with the state of the pelvic floor muscles. If they are chronically tight, they may not relax sufficiently to allow blood flow to the base of the penis. As a result, penile tissue fails to fill up with blood, which in turn affects the appearance of the penis in its flaccid state and its ability to become erect.
Depending on the severity, men with chronic HFS may not be able to have intercourse as frequently as they would like. In most cases, they may not be able to have sex entirely.
Intimacy plays an integral role in every relationship. Not being able to have sexual intercourse can cause feelings of anxiety and loss for both partners. It makes a man feel depressed, frustrated, angry, and less masculine.
The condition also affects their partner’s mental health, causing them to feel unattractive, confused, and anxious. They may even start to question whether their partner is being faithful. The shame and stigma attached to the condition prevent most couples from openly discussing it.
How to Treat Hard Flaccid Syndrome
The first step toward treating HFS involves understanding the condition. This works to alleviate stress and anxiety, which are known to aggravate the condition. Education is also important in getting rid of any emotional drivers and harmful behaviour that could worsen an already bad situation. It also helps to examine your history to unpack the possible triggers that led to the condition.
Treatment for HFS is usually done in-clinic by a qualified physiotherapist. It involves a range of exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles. The idea isn’t to strengthen them since this would be counterintuitive but to down-regulate them instead. Pelvic yoga has proven effective in treating mild cases of the condition.
Focused shockwave (FSW) therapy is the gold standard in the treatment of Hard Flaccid Syndrome. It involves the use of a device known as a wand to emit gentle pulses of shockwaves targeted at penile tissue for about 15 minutes. This non-invasive procedure stimulates blood flow to the genitals and encourages tissue remodeling to promote healthy erections.
Some home-based exercises you can work on in between physiotherapy visits include pelvic floor stretching and relaxation exercises. Ensure you consult your physiotherapist to iron out the kinks in the frequency and intensity of the exercises. Overdoing them might have the opposite effect.
Take Charge of Your Sexual Health
In addition to the treatments, ensure you take the necessary steps to reduce or mitigate stressors in your life. Stress creates tension in the muscles, reducing erectile function in the process. This aggravates the symptoms of HFS.
Additionally, pay attention to the state of your pelvic floor throughout the day. Make a conscious and deliberate effort to keep them as relaxed as you can.
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, consider incorporating 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise into your daily routine. Walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming can be hugely beneficial to your sexual health.
Book a consultation with a physiotherapist today to treat Hard Flaccid Syndrome once and for all.