Struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED) can be an emotionally difficult experience—not just for the man, but for his partner as well. According to a study by Pfizer, most women rank ED as a more important factor than menopausal symptoms, infertility, allergies, obesity, and insomnia when it comes to their quality of life. Fortunately, the condition is treatable, though both partners will need to put in work—physically and emotionally.
If your partner is struggling with erectile dysfunction (ED), he doesn’t just need a doctor’s help: He needs your help, and by supporting him, you can ensure your relationship stays strong. You can start by staying positive, maintaining open communication, and finding other ways to be intimate.
First, recognize that, despite cultural stereotypes, ED is not a personal issue: It is a health issue. That means that, no matter how discouraged you and your partner may be, the problem can be fixed by addressing the larger health issue causing the ED. And that’s something to be positive about! Failure to achieve an erection doesn’t mean that the spark is gone from your relationship; it means that something is keeping the spark from igniting into a fire. Encourage your partner by treating the ED as a temporary issue and help him find the resources for effective treatment.
The first time your partner experiences sexual performance issues, it can be easily attributed to stress, anxiety, fatigue, or some other perfectly plausible catalyst. As the issue continues, embarrassment often leads to reluctance to talk about the problem. If your partner is experiencing ED, it’s important to be sensitive but open about it.
“The best thing to do is to discuss things outside of the bedroom—not right after it happens, but days or even weeks later,” says sex expert Jennifer Downey, MD. When you talk with your partner, make sure he understands you know it’s a health issue that isn’t his fault. “You have to treat this the way you would any other non-life threatening issues in your relationship, and just calmly discuss it,” Downey says. “If you put it in the context of a physical problem and not a sexual one, most men will be less likely to ‘shut down’ or shut you out.”
Find Other Ways to Be Intimate
The most important thing you can do for your partner is to realize that sex is not the same thing as intimacy. “Intimacy is a one-on-one connection that involves a synchrony between two people,” says Helene Brenner, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of I Know I’m In There Somewhere. “If you want to feel intimate, the first thing you and your partner need to do is stop all the other things you are doing and give each other your undivided, undistracted attention.”
To achieve intimacy without sex, engage in activities in which you give one another your undivided attention:
- Focus on kissing
- Dance together
- Give each other a massage
- Learn something new together
It’s essential to maintain a level of intimacy even if sexual performance is an issue. This will help keep your relationship strong and provide deeper levels of confidence in each other until the sexual performance issues are resolved.
When your partner is suffering from ED, it affects both of you. That’s why it will take both of you working together to get through this. You can do your part by staying positive, maintaining open communication, and finding other ways to be intimate. At Metro Men’s Health, we can help you and your partner address and fix the health issues at play. If your partner has been struggling to conquer ED and is ready for a healthier, happier life, reach out to us today. We’re ready to help.