Erectile Dysfunction: A Partner’s Point of View

Erectile dysfunction is often referred to as “the couples’ disease” as it is one of the few conditions that can affect both a man as well as his partner. Erectile dysfunction can limit intimacy, damage relationships and create low self-esteem. Understanding the facts about erectile dysfunction will help both of you to find a solution and regain intimacy as well as confidence.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the persistent inability for a man to maintain or achieve an erection that is firm enough to have sexual intercourse.

How many men are affected by erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction affects more than half of men over the age of 40 in some form or another. So while it may be embarrassing, your partner is not alone, and there is treatment available to help.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

There is no single cause of ED. The issues that can cause erectile dysfunction are very real and come in both physical and psychological forms that may be the cause for ED.

We are joined once again by David Mills and Dr Greta Peciulyte who explains what erectile dysfunction is.

Some of the common physical causes are:

  • Prostate cancer treatment
  • Surgery
  • Medication
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise

Some of the common psychological causes are:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Adult trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Insomnia

The emotion behind erectile dysfunction

How will it affect your partner?

Erectile dysfunction has a significant impact on a man’s mental health. It is often accompanied by frustration, feelings of embarrassment and emasculation which can lead to behaviours of denial, alienation, avoidance and sometimes aggression.

While your partner may initially accept your support, after a while hearing you say “It’s not a problem” becomes difficult to believe.

Your partner may begin to avoid sexual intercourse, creating feelings of alienation and friction in the relationship.

Most men feel as though the ability to maintain an erection is a vital part of their identity as a man. It makes them feel normal, so to suddenly lose that part of themselves may make them feel vulnerable, afraid, anxious and question their candidacy as a ‘man’.

It is important for you to reassure your partner that erectile dysfunction is a part of growing older and to be supportive and understanding. When trying the various ED treatment options, success may vary depending upon the cause of the ED, so it is vital that you reassure your partner during the treatment process.

How will it affect me?

As the partner of a man who has erectile dysfunction you should be aware that the feelings of frustration, sadness and empathy have the potential to fade with time and become apathy and acceptance of life without the closeness enjoyed previously.

  • You may begin to ask questions such as “Is there something wrong with me?” as you look inward for causes of your partners ED.
  • You may also experience a desire to “fix” the problem whether you believe that to be yourself or with your partner.
  • You may be afraid of treatment options and too anxious to discuss treatment with your partner.

What can I do?

  • You should understand that ED is usually a medical problem that affects both you and your partner.
  • You should discuss the problem openly with your partner.
  • You should accompany your partner to his medical appointments to show your support.
  • You should educate yourself on the available treatments for ED.
  • You should educate yourself on ED and understand the possible causes.

How can I start the conversation?

ou know your partner best. Erectile dysfunction affects many men across the UK and can result in frustration, anger and a loss of intimacy both inside and outside of the bedroom. Show support, pursue intimacy on an emotional level and through hugging, kissing and cuddling.

You could start the conversation with “I love you, I know there is something wrong. Do you want to talk about it?”

What treatment is available?

There are a wide variety of treatment options available to treat erectile dysfunction. If one method does not work, there are other non-surgical alternatives to take before surgery becomes an option.  The degree of time it takes to achieve an erection also varies amongst solutions. Your doctor will guide you through the available treatment options that are best for you as a couple.

Your partner’s treatment could involve oral medicationscream, vacuum erection devices, injections, suppositories or penile implants. Speaking with you and your partner, your doctor will assist you in choosing the right treatment course to address the problem.