How to Talk to a Partner About ED 

Published: January, 28 2022

Some conversations can be difficult.

If you have a partner who experiences erectile dysfunction, you may be in an uncomfortable situation. Your partner may be opposed to talking about their ED and shy away from sex with you. You may be feeling distance or awkwardness during moments of intimacy or other parts of the relationship. Erectile dysfunction can be a sensitive subject, so how do you navigate this obstacle and talk to your partner about ED? 

The answer focuses more on listening and timing more than knowing the right things to say. 

Let the Situation Cool Off

You’re getting hot and heavy with your partner, enjoying moments of intimacy with them and the excitement and fun that brings. But they can’t achieve or sustain an erection. Suddenly the moment has gone from steamy to stale. 

If this is a common occurrence in the bedroom or the first time it has happened, you may be tempted to launch into a full discussion right there to get to the root of the issue. You probably have questions for your partner or want to offer words of support and affirmation. While your motivation is likely pure, save the conversation for outside the bedroom after you and your partner have had some time to cool off. 

Be understanding when it happens, but wait to approach the subject at a later time for a deeper conversation. Doing this removes the potential for your partner to feel any extra pressure to be able to perform sexually and reframes the discussion about your concern and desire to support them in whatever way is the most productive. 

Follow Their Lead 

When it comes to men experiencing ED, they could be going through a myriad of different emotions and concerns. They might be worried that their erectile dysfunction is a sign of an underlying health issue, feeling inadequate sexually, or experiencing feelings of shame. Talking about it too soon after it has happened or when they’re in a bad mood may add to the pressure that they already feel and exacerbate the situation. 

If possible, let your partner come to you to talk about the issue when they’re ready. If you’re feeling like they’re avoiding the conversation, let them know you are there for them if and when they want to talk about it, but you’re respecting their boundaries. 

It may be tempting to try and urge them into talking about it, but pushing them to discuss it may just push them away or make them feel worse about the situation. You can also let them know that if they don’t feel comfortable talking about it with you, for whatever reason, that a doctor or a therapist could be an outside solution or another source of objective support that can help or lend a listening ear. 

Listen First, Support Second

When your partner decides that they are ready to have a conversation about their ED, it’s important that you make sure that they feel heard. You’ll be tempted to offer solutions to what you see as the problem, but instead of trying to give your partner the answers that you likely don’t have, listen and sympathize with them. 

You may not know what exactly your partner is experiencing or feeling, so the best way to help sometimes is to simply listen to them and affirm their feelings. If they feel heard, it will invite them to continue to share with you in the future and help them process the situation. 

After you’ve lent an ear and validated your partner’s feelings, then you can offer some sensible solutions or tips. If their ED is becoming a regular occurrence, you may suggest that they talk to their doctor or a specialist about it. A medical professional will be able to assist them in finding the root of what’s causing their ED and then help treat it. 

When it comes to talking with your partner about ED, it can be a tricky tightrope to walk. If you enter the conversation with the motivation to listen and let your partner come to you when they’re ready, you’ll be able to gain some ground on ED and work together to find solutions. 

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