Erectile Dysfunction and Relationships: How to Talk to Your Partner

November 15, 2021 |

Men affected by erectile dysfunction (ED) are unable to maintain a sufficient erection over a long period of time — despite sexual arousal.  ED can significantly reduce the quality of life and confidence of men and their partners, so erectile dysfunction is not just a man’s issue, it’s a couple’s issue.

While ED may feel embarrassing or taboo, it’s one of the most common sexual disorders. Millions of men are affected by ED at some point in their lives, so you’re not alone. 

How to Discuss ED with your Partner

Avoiding tough conversations will likely harm your relationship. Openly talking about sex and your relationship is the first step to a successful path of treatment and resolution. Honest communication is key to making a relationship work, even when it comes to talking about your health concerns. Although discussing your ED with your partner may be uncomfortable, being open to talking about difficult issues can actually help you grow closer. 

Understanding the Causes

To start, it’s important to understand that your ED is caused by an underlying health issue. Acknowledging that erectile dysfunction is a real medical condition and not a relationship issue will help both of you recognize that it’s not either person’s fault. 

There are many reasons why a man may experience ED. While most causes are physical, there are several psychological causes as well.

Common causes include:

How to Prepare

A positive attitude will help keep you and your partner from becoming discouraged.  Don’t be defensive or make excuses – just remember it’s no one’s fault. 

Your word choices are also very important when talking about issues like ED. Use words or phrases that you are comfortable with, but make sure they are clear and get the point across. You don’t necessarily have to use the phrase “erectile dysfunction.” 

Let’s Talk About It

So how can you begin the conversation? Find the right time when you are both relaxed and alone, but away from the bedroom. Focus on being honest about your feelings as hard as it might be. Discuss your ED and the fact that it is a medical condition. Be open to questions and respond honestly. 

Keep in mind, there are no rules to this. If you’re not ready to talk about it, there’s nothing saying you have to discuss all the details right away. For example, if your ED was caused by trauma or anxiety, you may want to share more info over time rather than all at once and that’s okay.

Moving Forward

While dealing with ED can be stressful, finding help begins with talking to your partner. If you both decide that seeking treatment from a professional is the next step, go see a doctor. 

Your partner can provide support in various ways once you have sought treatment. At a doctor appointment, he or she may remember things you didn’t notice or forgot, which might help fill in gaps about patterns or changes in symptoms. Learning from your doctor can also help your partner understand ED better throughout your treatment.

If your doctor recommends any lifestyle changes, like a healthier diet, it may be beneficial for your partner to participate in those changes too. Having someone to rely on makes it easier to adopt new habits.