How to Talk to Your Partner About Erectile Dysfunction

Guidance from a marriage therapist about how to speak to your partner about his ED.

Couple talking about ED

Men, by popular belief, are supposed to be fearless and indomitable. They are go-getters, breadwinners, insatiable lovers, great partners, and/or wholesome family men all wrapped into one.

But what happens when life doesn’t go as planned? Sometimes, men, even the best and most successful ones, cannot “rise to the occasion.”

When a man is unable to achieve an erection during one of the most intimate moments, it can be upsetting, frightening, depressing, and anxiety-provoking.

But could you blame him? Imagine if you were unable to sexually satisfy your partner. How would you feel? What would you need from him to feel supported, loved, and wanted? Erectile dysfunction doesn’t just affect your partner, it also affects you.

It means you are in a unique position of being a positive support system for your man. Your thoughts and feelings matter to your partner. You have the opportunity to help him navigate his conflicting feelings and emotional distress.

Ignoring or dismissing ED can lead to a host of mental health woes, such as anxiety, depression, and relationship problems like feelings of betrayal, self-doubt, social isolation, anger, frustration, infidelity, non-stop arguments, low self-confidence, undesirableness, and even a possible breakup or divorce.

In this article I’ll discuss the ways that you can talk to your partner about his ED – without offending him or hurting his feelings. Because that’s important too.

Ways to Talk to Your Partner About Erectile Dysfunction

Listed below are ways you can talk to your partner about erectile dysfunction (ED):

1. Plan ahead of time

Before broaching the topic with your partner, research the topic. Specifically, research the symptoms, causes, and treatments of erectile dysfunction (ED).

It is important to learn everything you can about this issue, because if you do not know the ins and outs of ED, you will be unable to help and support your partner.

So, research ED, talk to professionals, like a sex therapist or a urologist, read articles on the topic, and talk with others who have partners with ED.

2. Start the conversation

The worst thing you can do is to address the issue while you or your partner are agitated, upset, frustrated, angry, or emotional. If you want to get a positive reception from your partner, plan the “talk,” when you both time and are feeling well, happy, and calm.

Avoid talking to him before or immediately after a sexual encounter as it could worsen the erectile dysfunction or make him to feel embarrassed or defensive.

Broach the topic from a “we” perspective, explaining what you have noticed and share what you have learned about the condition.

Make sure that your partner knows that you are there for him and tackle this issue as a team. Your partner needs your support, encouragement, and love. Let him know that ED is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.

Keep this conversation uplifting and hopeful. Share how much better sex will be once the issue is addressed. Focus on different ways ED can be treated and share with him the statistics of those who are successfully treated for it.

3. Listen to your partner

Once you have shared your concerns with your partner, it is time for you to listen. Perhaps, he will want to share where he thinks the ED stems from or how ED makes him feel.

Your task at this point is to actively listen to what he tells you – without judgment or criticism. Validation is what your partner needs most from you the most.

Explain that it is normal to feel conflicting and confusing emotions because you are also experiencing those emotions. Let him talk until he feels “heard.”

Be patient. Rome was not built in a day and your partner’s ED issue will not be “fixed” in a day either.

It may take time to figure everything out, but if you work together, your partner will get a grasp on his ED and your relationship and sex life will improve.

4. Communicate your feelings

 Your partner may feel terrible about not being able to sexually satisfy you, which could lead to pushing you away or avoiding sex.

He may also feel the urge to prove himself, resulting in wanting to have sex all the time but experiencing performance anxiety.

Create a warm and nurturing environment for a productive dialogue. Your partner needs to know you’re there for the long haul and can be trusted.

Approach the conversation with compassion, understanding, willingness to learn, support, love, and mutual respect.

Engage in a back-and-forth conversation, with your primary role being a supporter and listener.

Once the warm and supportive environment is established, meaningful conversation can take place with real results.

5. Encourage your partner to seek treatment

Once he has finished talking, reassure him of your love, support, and commitment and encourage him to seek ED treatment. Remember, your task is to be uplifting for your partner. In other words, your partner does not need to feel like he will lose you if he is unable to take a magic pill to fix the issue.

So, your approach should involve providing support and hope for your partner in terms of the available ED treatments on the market.

These treatments may include oral medications like Viagra, injections, suppositories, testosterone replacement therapy, penile pumps, or implants for physical causes.

For psychological causes, mental therapies such as psychotherapy, mindfulness meditation-based therapy, guided imagery, or other forms of therapy can be considered.

6. Be supportive

The thing your partner needs most from you is support. He needs to know that you are in this together. This is not the time to get frustrated and “jump ship.”

This is the time to show your man exactly how much you love and respect him. It is time to offer to go to doctor’s appointments with him, attend ED support groups with him, and try new things, such as adopting a healthier diet, getting more exercise, forming healthy habits, getting more sound sleep, and trying new sexual positions with him.

Remind your partner that “lovemaking” involves more than sexual intercourse and let him know you are willing and excited to try different ways of being intimate with each other in the bedroom.

In other words, let your partner know that there are other ways to express your love for each other.

Conclusion

Understand that erectile dysfunction (ED) affects both partners. It takes two to tango. Still, men who struggle with ED are often hesitant to talk with their partners for fear of being perceived as inadequate or undesirable.

This can cause tremendous stress and pressure to hide the issue. Moving past the shame, guilt, anger, and frustration is crucial if you want to improve your relationship and sex life.

Talking about sex, feelings, and ED may sound awkward and uncomfortable, but it is the only way to get the answers and treatment to “fix” the problem.

Remind your partner that ED is treatable; you are a team for the long haul. He needs that, and so do you.

About R.Y Langham, PhD

Psychologist and Marriage Therapist

Dr. R.Y. Langham is a certified psychologist and marriage therapist. She holds a PhD in family psychology from Capella University and an MMFT in marriage and family therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Dr. Langham serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, where she writes, edits, and reviews professional materials and articles on the topics of sex and relationships.