- Erectile dysfunction affects partners of men who have it.
- His ED has nothing to do with “losing your looks.”
- Understand and accept your emotions when he rejects your attempts to make love.
- Try to understand what your partner is going through.
- Redefine sex beyond intercourse and find ways to have fun in bed again.
- Get professional help and prescription medication to resume penetrative sex.
Marianne was desperate — “My partner won’t touch me!” The couple hadn’t had sex in a year. She started getting depressed, thought he didn’t find her attractive anymore. She suspected he was having an affair and worried this meant the end of an otherwise happy marriage.
One rainy Sunday, Marianne crashed. In tears, she told her husband she couldn’t take it anymore and demanded answers. And Tom finally told her the truth. No, he wasn’t seeing anyone. He wasn’t initiating sex because his penis stopped cooperating.
ED is a tricky problem. It affects the man and his partner in equal measure. Both heterosexual and gay couples experience intimate challenges resulting from erection problems.
The lack of sexual satisfaction can lead to a crisis. But there is hope. Here’s what you can do if your partner is struggling with erectile dysfunction.
Understand It’s Not About You
Marianne’s story is not uncommon. According to a pan-European observational study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, approximately 15 percent of men who reported having ED for one to five years made no attempts to have intercourse.
In the group of men with long-term, untreated erectile dysfunction (5 to 10 years) that percentage went up to almost 30 percent.
Yet, satisfying sex is so much more than the physical connection. Being desired by another person boosts our confidence and self-esteem. When your man begins to avoid sex, you may take it personally. You may suspect he doesn’t desire you anymore because you “lost your looks.” This is not true.
ED has nothing to do with how sexy or youthful you are. Even celebrity men, like Hugh Hefner, have admitted to using Viagra for their erectile difficulties. Being surrounded by playmates did not cure his ED!
There’s no need to blame yourself for his erection problems, but don’t deny your emotions either. It’s normal to feel sad or angry when the person you love loses interest in intimacy. Find ways to express those feelings and share them with your partner. Chances are high he has no idea what you’re going through, and you may not realize what’s going on in his mind, either.
Walk a Mile in His Shoes
Gay men often find it easier to relate to their partner’s emotions around erectile dysfunction. After all, they share the same gender experience and were brought up hearing similar messages around masculinity. Even if you think you understand your partner, don’t make assumptions. Ask.
For female partners, things get more complicated. Women often think their partners are tough guys who can’t be shaken by life’s challenges. In most cultures men are expected not to cry or talk about their feelings with their buddies. And sexual dysfunction is one of the biggest taboos out there.
Men who have erectile dysfunction can experience a range of emotions. Here’s what your guy may be going through:
- He may think he’s a bad lover and blame himself for his inability to satisfy you.
- He may feel ashamed of losing his “manhood.”
- He may get jealous out of fear of losing you to someone who can get an erection.
- He may develop depression or anxiety.
The best thing you can do for your partner is to be there for him. Even if there is no sex, don’t distance yourself. Offer hugs, cuddling, and massages. Physical closeness is important for the relationship. And intimacy is not limited to intercourse.
Redefine Sex and Have Fun in Bed Again
When it comes to sex and ED, perspective changes everything. What seems like a disaster and a dead end to some couples can be an unexpected opportunity for others.
Open your mind and look at the big picture. Here are some questions to get you started. Think about these on your own, and then have a conversation with your partner.
- What is sex? The first thing that comes to mind for most of us is intercourse — any activity that includes penetration. Anything else gets labeled as foreplay. That kind of thinking is a trap! Couples who believe only vaginal or anal penetration equals real sex run the risk of losing their intimate connection when erectile dysfunction kicks in.
Think of creative ways you can be sexual together without full intercourse. Some sexy activities don’t even involve physical touch! You could bring your lover to orgasm just by sharing hot fantasies.
- How can you take the pressure off intimacy? What would feel easy and fun? Go back to the time when you were younger and crazy in love. You probably spent sleepless nights having sex and doing lots of other things. A sensual striptease? A pillow fight? Licking whipped cream off your lover? There’s lots of ways to be erotic without penetration.
- Men don’t need an erection to orgasm. Many good articles are available online, like this one, that cover other ways for men to orgasm. Because there are also other ways for men to please their partners, there’s no reason why you both can’t be well satisfied.
- What are you curious about? What are the things you wanted to learn about sex but never had the time or were too shy to ask?
If you would like to deepen your spiritual bond, try tantra. A tantric massage is an amazing way to awaken the sexual energy even if the erection comes and goes. It teaches you to accept the natural ebbs and flows of sexuality.
Or give sensate focus a go. Many couples find this method a very intimate experience that’s infinitely satisfying.
And if you’re more into playfulness, go online together and pick some sex toys. They help you enhance pleasure, and some products are even designed for men with ED.
Good Sex With ED is Possible! Get Help Today
When a man realizes he has erectile dysfunction, it may feel like the end of the world to him. But it’s not! Modern treatments are highly effective and safe for most men. But they do require a medical consultation.
The sooner you get help, the better. Waiting too long to deal with your ED could mean years without sex. And for most couples, the lack of physical intimacy leads to conflict and even breakups.
Getting a prescription for an ED med, such as Viagra, Cialis or Levitra, is a good idea, but not just for you. Your partner needs intimacy, too. As one example of the impact of ED treatment on couples, according to a 2010 study, sexual functioning of female partners of men with ED improved once erectile problems were addressed with treatment.
Make an appointment with your doctor today, or get a free consultation with a U.S.-licensed physician at eDrugstore.com. To learn about the medications we carry, see our erection dysfunction page. With eDrugstore, virtual health visits and shipping are always free.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.