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Erectile dysfunction: Supporting your partner

Erectile dysfunction, the inability to have and maintain an erection, is very common and can affect a couple's relationship.

Erectile dysfunction, sometimes referred to as ED, is thought to affect half of all men aged between 40 and 70 to some degree.

Relationship problems are just one cause of ED, so don't assume you are to blame for a man's impotence. ED can be due to several medical, emotional, and lifestyle reasons, from diabetes to depression.

If a partner has ED, do encourage them to seek medical advice about it. Erection problems are often solved by tackling an underlying medical or mental health condition.

Here are some tips:

  • Learn as much as you can about ED. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you’ll be able to support your partner. When seeking treatment, you and your partner should agree on a method that best fits your lifestyle.
  • Let your partner know that he’s not alone. Remind him that ED is a very common, very treatable medical condition. ED is not a reflection of his masculinity, nor does it indicate a lack of desire for you. You should also support your partner in any efforts to deal with ED by changing his lifestyle - such as eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking and not using any recreational drugs.
  • Go with him to see the doctor. If your partner agrees, accompany him when he sees his doctor. This is another way to show that you’re concerned and willing to work with him to treat his condition.
  • Remind him that there are many options for successful treatment. If your partner does not succeed initially, encourage him to continue to visit the doctor and explore other options.

As a partner of a man with ED, you are also affected. Here are some tips to help you better deal with the situation:

  • Discuss your feelings and let your partner know that you care.
  • Stay positive. Don’t talk about blame - instead, talk about what you and your partner want and need, and how to achieve it.
  • Try alternative techniques to obtain sexual satisfaction. Find other ways to give and receive pleasure without pressuring your partner to perform.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 10, 2018

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