Overcoming the effects of erectile dysfunction

Good communication is vital to a good relationship, true intimacy, and a good sex life. If you have erectile dysfunction, make sure you talk about the effects it is having on you.

Talking about sex strengthens the relationship between a couple and encourages intimacy around sex. It lowers anxiety and reassures you that your needs and wishes will be met. When you have a problem with your erections, it is even more important to discuss what's happening during sex and in your relationship, and to express your feelings about your erectile dysfunction.

Some men think that discussing feelings is feminine, so you may not know how to express what you feel (or you may not know what you're feeling in the first place). You may not be aware what you want from your partner sexually, which makes it hard to express your needs!

And of course you may feel shame or inhibition around expressing your sexual needs, but the reality is this: as far as sex goes, anything can be incorporated into a couple's sex life as long as there is no coercion and both partners agree about it.

In short - ask for what you want! This kind of communication is especially important when it comes to problems like erectile dysfunction, as it can be a way to get reassurance from your partner, or establish what she feels about your erectile dysfunction.

As a general principle, openness and honesty are the best policy in relationships - they make for authenticity.

 So if you find that something's happening during sex which you don't like, for example, your partner is touching you in a way you don't like, or she's sucking your penis when you aren't interested, tell her! This kind of open communication is essential to successful sex, necessary for curing erectile dysfunction and helpful in building a good, solid relationship.

No woman will never know precisely what you want unless you tell her about your wishes, sexual needs and desires. To check how inhibited you might be consider this: do you know if your male or female partner masturbates, and how often?

Of course, for this process to work, a woman must communicate in the same way, expressing her wishes and sexual needs, and you as a man can help by encouraging her to say what she wants.

Another important reason to have a frank exchange of views about sex with your male or female partner is that if you don't talk to each other about sex, you're going to end up fantasizing and worrying about what is going on for her, whether you are sexually satisfying her, what you ought to be doing, and so forth. This is a waste of time and energy.

  • Do you enjoy looking at each other's penis or vulva?

  • Have you ever looked at your partner's penis or vulva, and, if not, would you be able to ask her to show them to you? Would you find this embarrassing?

  • Can you freely talk about your erections (or lack of them), your erectile dysfunction, and the lack of penetrative sex in your relationship? Are you relaxed or uptight about sex, and how does this affect your sexual issues?

  • Masturbation and cunnilingus are a means to give your partner an orgasm if you have erectile dysfunction, so it's helpful to know how to do them properly.

A first step in resolving erectile dysfunction

This simple exercise may help you to communicate your desires and wishes to your partner. Each of you should get a piece of paper then tear it into five portions. On each piece write one (sexual) thing you'd like your partner to do with or for you, then put them into a hat and draw one out in turn each time you make love. In this way you can do something for your partner: it's a good way to ask for what you want and a great method to get you discussing sexual needs and desires.

The longer term view

You can't expect your partner to cope with your erectile dysfunction for ever. While it's painful for you to experience ongoing erectile dysfunction, it's just as frustrating for your partner. She has to cope with the emotional and sexual effects of your erectile dysfunction. Most partners won't know what to do about it, nor how to cope or help. So here are some ways to communicate about erectile dysfunction and its emotional consequences.

  • Can you deal with erectile dysfunction in therapy? If your problems are so deep-seated that they require a course of sexual psychotherapy before you can begin to deal with your erectile dysfunction, or if you were sexually or emotionally abused during childhood, get therapy for that first.
  • Is your partner willing to help you resolve your erectile dysfunction? You need her support and willingness to help you get back to full potency.
  • Are you in a relationship that is basically sound, and will it be solid enough to keep you together through all the challenges that surface as you begin to work on your erectile dysfunction? Will you be able to work together on the problem?

More about treating erectile dysfunction

You can't tackle erectile dysfunction with self-help treatment methods effectively if you have:

  • lots of anxiety about not being able to get an erection
  • a lack of sexual experience
  • discomfort with masturbation
  • other difficulties such as premature ejaculation or a lack of sexual experience
  • long term erectile dysfunction with infrequent sexual functioning
  • a lack of desire or low sexual drive or libido

If you have some fundamental issues about love, sex and intimacy, consider seeing a professional therapist first. For example, if you are sexually inexperienced, you might be OK trying to treat ED yourself, as long as you have a willing partner who is relaxed about sex and willing to enjoy sexual play. But if your sexual inexperience is rooted in childhood problems, this could be more challenging. You might want to see an experienced sexual psychotherapist. Or, if you have a tolerant, sexually open and loving partner, you can still make progress during working at home on your erectile dysfunction. If you have a sexual aversion to women, this is much more difficult to solve. I'd advise seeing a sexual therapist.

Is your partner is free of sexual problems?

A woman who has her own sexual issues can be unhelpful to a man who wishes to cure his erectile dysfunction.

Often it turns out that her sexual problems are part of the cause of his erectile dysfunction. Many women, especially those who are anorgasmic, may blame their partner for this - so a woman needs to be open about her own issues, not sexually inhibited or repressed, before she starts to try and help her man cure erectile dysfunction.

A woman with problems around sex and intimacy will not be relaxed or even interested in the process and may sabotage your progress so she does not have to address her own ambivalent feelings about sex. As a matter of fact, a woman who does not have orgasms, and isn't trying to find out why not, is simply not interested in sex!

Orgasms matter, regardless of how much a woman says she doesn't care about them. A woman who is uninterested in sex will not be any use for a man who is trying to get his erections back!

Furthermore, if your partner is uninterested in sex, she might work towards making you come quickly, just so that the whole unpleasant (to her) business is finished as soon as possible. Naturally, this is not going to help you solve an erectile dysfunction problem.

And if you're with a woman who doesn't like sex, there's not much incentive for you to solve your erectile challenges because she isn't interested in intercourse. Your partner needs to be willing to work on your erectile dysfunction issues alongside you, and you must be ready to work on the problem and accept her help.

Clearly this will not go well if your relationship is poor or you don't really want to be in the relationship. If your relationship has non-sexual problems, please work on those problems before you start addressing your erectile dysfunction. And if your partner begins to judge you because you have a sexual challenge, then she needs to be reminded that erectile dysfunction does not make you less of a man.

It's a problem if a woman thinks a "real man" must be ready, willing and able to have sex with her at a moment's notice! You might be able to deal with this together by seeing a therapist. She must also be ready to put her own sexual needs to one side as she assists you to cure your erectile dysfunction. In this process, at least, she is there to assist you, and she may need to have sexual contact with you even if she isn't in the mood; on the other hand, she may be asked not to have sexual contact with you when she does want it; and she must be respectful of your erectile issues. This applies both when things are going well and when they are not going so well.

But of course, you must want to solve your erectile problem - it goes without saying that if you do not have the motivation to do the exercises on this website, or if you do them half-heartedly, you're not likely to cure your erectile dysfunction.

Watch out for these things:

You might not care about curing your ED if you've lost interest in sex, or if you've lost sexual or emotional interest in your partner, or if you have issues that are more important to deal with, such as a health problem.

You might not believe you really have a serious problem: if you don't think you have a problem, you won't have much motivation sort it out. Sounds odd? Well, perhaps, but many men whose sex drive reduces in mid-life lose interest in sex and don't care about their erectile dysfunction either way. Testosterone replacement therapy might help here, as it restores not only your libido but also your erections (although Viagra may be needed as well).

You might not want to work on erectile dysfunction with your partner if you're not particularly committed to the relationship. If you don't feel emotionally close to your partner, you may decide not to look at the problem at all - as often happens when a man is having an affair and only has erectile dysfunction with his existing partner.

If your erectile dysfunction has some connection to your sexual behaviour (guilt, shame, or something similar) you may need to talk with your partner about what you like and what you don't like.

And if you don't want to see a psychotherapist, either because you see erectile dysfunction as too embarrassing, or because you think you won't be able to solve it, remember that for the vast majority of men, erectile dysfunction is 100% curable and a trained sexual therapist will be perfectly relaxed about the problem - even if you are not!


Other pages of background information on erectile dysfunction

Home ] Expectations around treatment ] Treatment of ED - You and Your Partner ] Effects Of Various Aspects Of The Treatment of ED ] How To Stop Erectile Dysfunction Ruining Your Relationship ] How to Talk To Your Partner ] Partner's role in curing erectile dysfunction ] [ Talking with your partner about erectile dysfunction ] The effects of ED on men ]

Other sections of this website about erectile dysfunction

Home ] Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction ] The Causes of Erectile Dysfunction ] Effects of Erectile Dysfunction On Men and Their Partners ] Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction ] The Science of Treating Erectile Dysfunction ]