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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

How To Support Your Partner With Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

by Andy Boysan (BPharm)

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that often has two sufferers: there is the person who actually has ED, but if they have a partner then they too will feel the effects of this sexual condition.

As the partner of an ED sufferer, you may feel as though you have done something wrong, and that your partner no longer finds you attractive. You may find it hard to broach such an emotional topic, or your partner may refuse to discuss it with you openly.

The causes of ED will often be down to physical, physiological, or medical issues experienced by your man. His health issues should not be taken as a reflection of your relationship. It’s important that you encourage open conversations and an honest dialogue, rather than antagonising him with accusations or demands.

There are two important things to know as the partner of a man afflicted by ED: neither of you are alone, and that by supporting your partner you can help him to overcome his ED. It’s not easy to know what to say and do — but here are some key ways in which you can show your support.


What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability for a man to either get or retain, an erection. It is a condition that affects around 50% of men aged 40-70 and 26% of men under 40. It recognises no boundaries; whether a man is straight, gay, bisexual, married, single, or transgender, he may be affected by ED.


Understanding the impact of ED on your partner

ED is hard on everyone. While you may be wondering if you have in some way caused your partner to develop ED, remember that your partner is the one who is unable to get an erection and is no longer able to enjoy sex in the way he was accustomed to. Before you go any further, stop to think about how you might feel in his position.  Empathy is an important part of the healing process; it will help you support him better.


How to support your partner experiencing ED

Do your research

It’s important for you to know exactly what your partner is dealing with. There are various causes of ED, some of them physical and anatomical, others psychological. Having a thorough understanding of ED will mean that you can have more informed, empathetic and sympathetic conversations with your partner.


Talk to your partner about it    

Your partner may be feeling alone: ED is a very isolating health issue. Speaking to him will take some of the edge off of his concerns, and help him to organise his thoughts better. It also makes you face the condition as a team. This will allow you both to formulate a plan of action to address his condition together. You may need to make adjustments to your sex life or your relationship — communicate openly about the necessary changes.


Help him to get help

There are many different treatments for ED: psychosexual counselling; penile injections; penile implants; penile creams; vacuum pumps; hormone treatment; surgery; or a variety of medications such as Levitra, Viagra, Cialis, and Spedra. The important thing is for you to be part of the solution by supporting your partner and being there for him during the treatment process.


Support him after the treatment process

Once your partner has received treatment, it’s important that you let him know you are still there for him. It may be that he feels more insecure about his sexual health, or that he suffers a relapse after receiving treatment. Make sure that he continues to know that he’s not alone and that you’ll continue to support him.


ED is rarely isolated to one sufferer: as the partner of someone afflicted with ED, you too are affected by the condition. Don’t let yourself or your partner become a victim. Support him in overcoming his ED it and you will overcome it together.   

Authored By:

A photo of  Andy Boysan

Andy Boysan


Published on: 06-10-2017

Last modified on: 06-10-2019

Andy is a co-founder, the superintendent pharmacist and director at The Independent Pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 06-10-2019

Next review date: 06-10-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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