A lot of men do not want to talk about their erectile dysfunction (ED), but the truth is that it can affect more than just themselves- their partners are also affected by the condition. The right communication will help avoid any embarrassment and allow room for understanding and support to grow.
Sex is a common topic in most relationships. But when one of the partners has erectile dysfunction, it can be difficult to know how to talk about it. It is important for both people to understand that this does not change anything about their relationship and love for one other. This article is designed to help you have more open conversations with your partner about ED.
ED is common and can affect anyone. It is estimated that over 30 million men in the United States have experienced ED at some point in their lives. It may be random, occasional, or chronic, but 1 in 10 men suffer from ED. While many men with ED are over the age of 50, there are still younger men who experience it, as well. Roughly 8% of men between 20-29 and 11% of men between 30-39 experience ED.
How ED Affects Relationships
The Sexual Dysfunction Association conducted an online survey to see how ED affected men. The results showed erectile dysfunction causes distress to those who experience it, with marked effects on their self-esteem and relationships. The most common initial reaction to erectile dysfunction was a sense of emasculation. For many men, the ability to perform sexually and to satisfy their partner was an important marker of their masculinity.
The importance of self-esteem cannot be overstated for a successful relationship. A person who is confident and proud of themselves will often times find they are more satisfied with their romantic relationships. High self-esteem allows them to enjoy romantic connections more than if they were suffering from feelings of worthlessness.
But it is not just the partner experiencing the ED who has lowered self-esteem. Despite the fact research has shown that ED normally has natural causes (like a circulation problem), partners of those experiencing ED have feelings of unattractiveness and tend to worry their partner has feelings for someone else. Fears of intimacy and of rejection can grow in this environment. Because of this, anxiety and depression can develop in the partner as well as the person experiencing ED.
How to Communicate with your Partner
First, it is important to remember no one is at fault for their erectile problems. It is important to broach the subject in the right setting. Having this conversation in bed or right after an ED instance has occurred is not ideal. Instead, it is better to prepare for the conversation and have it in a more relaxed or non-threatening setting.
Before beginning the conversation, it may help to educate yourself on why ED can occur and how to treat it so you can bring the information to your partner. Deepening your knowledge on the topic can help you and your partner better understand why ED is occurring and strengthen your support for one another as you venture into treatment or lifestyle changes that can help the condition.
If you are the partner of someone suffering from ED and wish to broach the subject with them, it is good to remember to set the right emotional tone for the conversation. It is important to not corner your partner or make them feel like you are attacking the condition. If your partner becomes embarrassed or defensive, then do not push the topic. However, do not entirely drop the subject. Allow them some time but let them know you need a follow-up conversation. It may be good to communicate that the condition is common, but that there are many treatment options available.
In some cases, it may be best to approach the subject with either a medical professional or with a marriage counselor. Regardless of how the topic is brought up, it is important to reiterate that you and your partner are a team and that you can lend support to one another.
A Few Things to Know about ED
Erectile Dysfunction is not necessarily about a lack of arousal. ED can actually be a symptom of underlying health concerns such as depression, high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, low testosterone, or heart disease. Emotional triggers such as anxiety or high stress levels can also cause or worsen the effects of erectile dysfunction.
ED is Treatable
The sooner you get the right treatment for your ED, the better. Treatments range from lifestyle changes to oral medications and sometimes even surgery. Making healthier food choices, improving your sleep quality, and exercising regularly can be lifestyle changes that improve the symptoms of ED. When lifestyle changes are not working or are unavailable, there are multiple prescription options to combat the effects of ED. The availability of generic ED medications has revolutionized the treatment of this condition by allowing for my financially viable options.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of ED, then it is recommended you speak to your healthcare provider.