How Female Partners of Men with Erection Problems Really Feel About It

What’s she thinking? Your inability to get and keep an erection can give rise to a wide array of doubts and fears in the mind of your partner.


Rare is the woman who has not been troubled by feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy when her male partner is unable to achieve and sustain an erection during sex.

Fortunately, a growing public awareness of the causes of erectile dysfunction is slowly but surely contributing to greater understanding and a bit less angst on the part of wives and sweethearts.

Nevertheless, a man’s inability to get and keep an erection suitable for intercourse still stings, causing nearly half of female partners to blame themselves, according to a survey conducted by the editors of The Mirror.

  • The Mirror survey revealed that 42 percent of the women polled feel that a man’s inability to get an erection is the woman’s fault. Nineteen percent believe a man’s impotence indicates that he no longer finds his female partner attractive.
  • Despite the increased conversation about erectile dysfunction, prompted by the flood of print and broadcast media advertising for Viagra and Cialis, 80 percent of the women surveyed said they didn’t realize how common ED is among men.
  • Asked what they do when their male partner is unable to get an erection, 40 percent of the women polled said they do nothing.
  • According to the women polled, 19 percent of the men who were unable to perform claimed that they were just too tired for sex, while 14 percent claimed they just weren’t in the mood, and 12 percent blamed their impotence on too much to drink. Somewhat shockingly, 29 percent of the women said that their male partner offered no explanation at all.

In an article posted at, medical writer Colette Bouchez delved more deeply into the female reaction to male impotence by consulting a handful of experts on sexual health.

Women Tend to Internalize Matters

Andrew McCullough, M.D., director of sexual health and male infertility at NYU Medical Center, said that women tend to internalize things, leading them to blame themselves for things that really aren’t their fault. He said that a woman often feels that a man’s inability to perform sexually indicates that she is no longer attractive to him.

When women do question a man about his inability to achieve or sustain an erection, their questions tend to reflect concerns about infidelity or their lack of appeal, according to Sallie Foley, coauthor of “Sex Matters for Women.” This line of questioning is often interpreted by the man as an attack on him, which causes him to pull back emotionally.

Can Lead to Communications Breakdown

“She then experiences this pulling back as a confirmation that she has done something wrong, and so she retreats even further,” says Foley, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. The end-result, more often than not, is a breakdown in communications that can very well lead to a breakup.

Given these points, men struggling with occasional erection problems could save themselves and their partners a great deal of hurt and anguish by discussing these problems candidly, which hopefully could enlist the partners’ help in fighting ED.

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