Help! My Husband Has Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a reality for many men—especially as they get older. Here are steps you can take to resolve it and support your husband or partner.
Senior Woman Tries To Be Affectionate Towards Husband In Bed

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual performance issue that causes men to struggle to get or maintain an erection. Around 30 million men in the United States are affected by some form of ED, and the odds of developing it increases sharply after 40.

In a marriage, sexual intimacy is essential to maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship. When one partner struggles with ED, the accompanying feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and disappointment can lead to a lack of intimacy and closeness, which can contribute to a decline in overall satisfaction and happiness in the marriage. Because ED is a condition that affects both partners, the best way to manage mental and emotional hurdles is to work on finding solutions together. Here’s everything you need to know if your partner suffers from ED. 

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Doctor physician consulting with male patients in hospital exam room. Men's health concept

The psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of guilt about sex or sexual performance. Physical causes could include injury, heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, certain medications, low testosterone levels, and the use of alcohol, tobacco, and/or marijuana. The bottom line is something is restricting the blood flow to the penis.

Just as our bodies change as we age, so too do our sex lives. In many cases, ED is treatable and should be destigmatized. The more you know about the causes and treatments available, the more you will be able to partner with your husband to manage the issue. Just look at it like any other physical or psychological condition, and you will find something that works for both of you. 

How to Talk About Erectile Dysfunction

Open, honest communication is the foundation of any good sexual relationship and can help reduce the strain of ED. But starting a conversation may be a challenge. For most men, sexual performance is a matter of pride, and their ego is tied to their ability to perform in bed. It may be difficult for your husband to talk about his ED due to shame or stigma.

Schedule a time that works for both you and your husband. Be supportive and open and bring up the subject sensitively. Start with your own feelings about the situation. Be honest yet empathetic. Don’t blame him for his ED, and don’t pressure him to treat it right away. Make sure to use blame-free language. Finally, ask your partner how you can help.

Don’t be judgmental. Let him know the statistics and reassure him that he’s not the only man in the world who struggles with ED. After all, it affects millions of men worldwide. Reassure and comfort, and let him know ED does not make him any less desirable. 

Encourage A Healthy Approach

Blue pills spilled out from a bottle

The good news is that erectile dysfunction is treatable, and help is both easily available and successful. The drugs Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis alone are successful for about 80 percent of men with the condition. If your partner opts to have the condition treated, go to his appointments with him and take an active role in his treatment. Have patience with medication. While erectile dysfunction drugs do work, they don’t work at warp speed or on demand. It can also be helpful in encouraging a healthy lifestyle. In older men, blood vessel issues are usually the culprit. Because the blood vessels in the penis are smaller than those in the heart, the disease can show up in the penis first.

There are simple, healthy steps for decreasing erectile dysfunction symptoms. Encourage your husband to stop smoking–cigarettes and/or marijuana—increase his exercise, and maintain a healthy body weight. Further, it could be easier for your guy to stick to these changes if you make them as well. It’s a win-win situation!

Find Other Ways to Show Love

Erectile dysfunction is not just a man’s issue, as it can affect the well-being of both partners. There are so many other ways to express your love. Focus on romance over sexual intimacy. Hold hands, go on dates, take that weekend trip you’ve been wanting to take, and let him know that it doesn’t bother you and that you can deal with it together.  

Intercourse isn’t the only way to be intimate with your man, and erections aren’t the only way to stay close. Take the focus off the penis. Try something new. It can be exciting while reducing the pressure on your husband to “perform.” Be flexible and open-minded. Other ways of having sex, such as using toys, intimate touching, cuddling, hand-holding, and a good-old make-out session can not only help your husband feel supported but make you as a couple feel closer and more emotionally connected.

Know It’s Not You

Upset mature couple ignoring each other. Close up of a worried senior man in tension at bed. Senior couple angry with each other after a fight.

If your husband is dealing with ED, he’s probably not the only one who is suffering. When a husband avoids intimacy with his wife, the wife may feel unwanted or unattractive. While your husband may be dealing with a bruised ego, you may be feeling rejected or unfulfilled, which can lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration, which can, in turn, lead to greater issues in the marriage. 

With communication, support, and proper medical care, couples can work as a team to overcome the challenges of ED and improve their intimacy, sexual satisfaction, and, most likely, their overall relationship as well.  

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