SEXUAL AROUSAL AND RESPONSE IN THE MALE: REGULATORY OR MODULATORY MECHANISM
The Modulatory or the Regulatory Mechanism (MM) is an emergency brake to inhibit sex when there is sudden danger or threat. Just as the alarm chain in a train when pulled brings the train to a grinding halt, similarly, the Modulatory Mechanism is an emergency mechanism to stop the sexual activity of the Arousal and Copulatory Mechanisms.
I will explain in detail how this mechanism regulates sexual activity in animals and man. Let us study animals first. The Modulatory Mechanism has an up to date feedback from the environment—what is happening in the jungle. A monkey may be driven by the sexual urge to copulate. The modulatory mechanism has given the green signal to the Arousal and Copulatory Mechanisms to go ahead. Its brakes are off! Imagine for a moment that a tiger appears on the scene. The Modulatory Mechanism as soon as it gets the information about the tiger from its sensory feedback, instantaneously jams the brake on the Arousal and Copulatory Mechanisms. Sexual activity stops as the monkey runs for its life. The preservation of life is more important at the moment than its propagation.
In man the Modulatory Mechanism acts as an inhibiting mechanism of sexual arousal and erection. Let me illustrate with the case history of Ravi who had been invited by his girl-friend Chitra to spend a quiet evening in her cosy apartment. 'Doctor, she looked dazzling in her slinky blue sari,' Ravi told me as we sat down. 'I couldn't take my eyes off her as she played with her sari; it kept sliding off her shoulder and uncovering her breasts. A gentle breeze blew her favourite perfume, "Joy", on to me.' Ravi breathed rapidly and continued, 'I was aroused and could not wait a second longer. An overpowering desire consumed me as I kissed and hugged her passionately.' The brakes of Ravi's Modulatory Mechanism were off. They had given the go-ahead signal.
'Things could not be better for a sizzling sexual encounter,' the Modulatory Mechanism told its two buddies—AM and CM. Ravi went on, 'I was about to mount my sweetheart when the doorbell rang loudly. My erection died down instantaneously, as I hurriedly got up to dress and answer the doorbell.' He paused, played with the pincushion on my table and hesitatingly asked, 'Doctor, the incident happened 15 days ago, yet whenever I am with Chitra, although I am aroused and on fire, nothing happens. Even after her office colleague left the other night, I could do nothing.' I reassured Ravi that the erection response is very sensitive. The slightest disturbance can make his MM send alarm messages to his AM and CM to stop temporarily. A few months later, I met the couple at a party, where as soon as I entered, Ravi told me, 'Remember, doctor, my penis went to sleep on hearing the doorbell? It is now functioning fine.'
When an animal faces real danger, the Arousal and Copulatory Mechanisms are immediately inhibited. Unfortunately, civilized man is inhibited not only by real threats, as in the case of Ravi, but also by symbolic threats, such as fear of performance. Let me explain. If owing to some reason like extreme tiredness, a man fails to get an erection, his confidence is shaken and he is afraid that he may not be able to perform again. Fear of performance is a symbolic threat.
Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction