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Sex Health Blog

Discussing Erectile Dysfunction With Your Partner

Nov 23, 2010

It's not always easy to talk about sex with your partner, especially when you're having difficulties like erectile dysfunction (ED).  You might feel nervous or awkward and wonder how your partner will respond to something so personal.  It's natural to feel this way.

But avoiding the issue won't make it disappear.  And withdrawing from each other will just add to the tension and make the problem worse.  So what can you do?
 
Communication is one of the keys to a healthy sexual relationship.  Here are some tips for having the conversation.
 

Talk about ED when you're not in the bedroom.

Trying to discuss the matter when you're "in the moment" will just lead to more frustration.  Instead, choose a time when both you and your partner are relaxed and have time to talk openly and objectively.  Turn off the TV and cell phones and give each other your undivided attention. 
 

Don't be shy.

Sometimes, just starting the conversation is the hardest part.  Take a deep breath and then take the plunge.  You might say something like, "There's been something on my mind lately and it's a little difficult to talk about."  Or, you could say, "Hey, can we talk about our sex life for a bit?"  Choose an opening that lets your partner know you care and that it's okay to talk about these things.  Don't be judgmental or accusing.
 
It might sound embarrassing, but chances are your partner has some concerns and wants to talk about it, too.  And you may find that the conversation flows easily once you've gotten over this initial awkwardness. 
 

Remember that erectile dysfunction isn't anyone's fault.

Erectile dysfunction is more commonly caused by physical conditions, not psychological ones.  For example, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure can all interfere with a man's ability to have an erection.  Side effects from certain medications can also be a factor.  
 
ED doesn't mean a man is less virile or that his partner is less desirable. It may be a sign of an underlying physical problem and could even be a blessing in disguise.   In fact, talking about ED may lead you both to healthier choices in the long run, such as lowering cholesterol or exercising more.  Such choices can improve your sex life in many ways.
 

Understand how your partner might be feeling.

Even though ED can be caused by something physical, some men with ED may feel it makes them less masculine.  They may feel inadequate and worry that they can't satisfy their partners.  Partners may feel that they're not attractive or desirable anymore or wonder whether the man is having an affair.  Both partners can become frustrated, angry, depressed, or suspicious.  
 
Acknowledge these feelings, reassure each other, and resolve to work through the problem together.  You might say, "I know this is tough for you, but I'm here to help."  Or, "I love you and only you.  We'll get through this."
 

Talk about a treatment plan.

Once the issue is out in the open, be ready to talk about treatment.  It's helpful if both members of the couple go to the doctor together.  Feel free to ask questions about medications or procedures.  As the saying goes, there's no such thing as a dumb question and staying informed will help the treatment process.  Make sure you understand the options available to you and be open and up front about how these options fit with your lifestyle.
 

Don't stop communicating.

Treatment for erectile dysfunction can take some time.  Sometimes the answer isn't as simple as taking a pill before sex.  Don't give up.  Stay supportive and positive.  If one treatment option doesn't work, don't blame one another.  Lots of couples face obstacles.  Instead, accept that you may need more time.  Or, you may need to try something else. 
 
For example, you might say, "It seems like this medication has lots of side effects.  Why don't we call the doctor and see if there's something else we can try?"  Or, "Using a penis pump takes some getting used to.  But we'll keep practicing.  We'll get it!"
 
While difficult, talking about erectile dysfunction can bring you closer together and make you a stronger couple.  Keeping the lines of communication open helps in this process, leading to even more satisfying sex for both of you.