While erectile dysfunction is a very common phenomenon for a number of men at some point in their lives, it can still be a tedious hurdle to overcome. You may notice that your partner is experiencing erectile dysfunction and sex is becoming a taboo subject.
As a woman, you may ask: how can you help support your partner without adding any additional pressure? Or, how do you bring up the conversation without making sex and ED feel like a burden that only falls on him?
ED affects both sex partners in a relationship.
Feelings of Inadequacy
When our partner is experiencing ED, it can trigger feelings of inadequacy or insecurity as women. We may rush to think the worst and that erectile dysfunction is somehow our fault. A myriad of panicked thoughts may flood our brains: does my partner not desire me sexually? Am I doing something wrong?
The reality is that erectile dysfunction and sex depend on so many different factors that it more than likely has nothing to do with you at all. ED can be caused by physical factors, medications your partner is taking, mental health issues such as PTSD, or other factors out of your (or their) control. It’s important to shake the notion that this condition is caused by anything you’re doing or not doing in the bedroom. Removing your ego from this situation can help you be a better source of support for your partner as they navigate sex and ED.
Wanting to Help
Everyone’s sex partners are different, but ED can be a deeply sensitive subject for some men. While we want to support our partners and be there for them, you should remember that they may not be ready to, or want to, talk about their erectile dysfunction with you. This can be a tricky tightrope to walk: showing your partner you care while also not feeling like there is any extra pressure for them to perform sexually.
In these situations, it’s important to follow your partner’s lead in communication. The best time to have a conversation about ED is likely not in the heat of the moment or right after. Let your partner know you’re there for them if they want someone to talk to about it or be willing to let it go for the time being if they seem disinterested in having a discussion.
It can be hard in these moments because we want to help solve the problem, but it may be outside of our control.
What About Me?
Not taking your partner’s ED personally and following their lead when it comes to discussing it may be ways to process the situation that help your partner, but what about your sexual and emotional needs?
You may feel like you’re not having your boxes checked when it comes to sex anymore or like your partner doesn’t want to engage in sexual intimacy anymore. In this scenario, you may benefit from suggesting other methods for you to reach sexual satisfaction that doesn’t involve or rely on your partner’s ability to get and maintain an erection. If you ask your partner to help you in this way, it allows them to participate in sexual activity with you without any pressure or shame on their ED.
An Expert Opinion Can’t Hurt
If you’re at a loss and feeling like you don’t know how to help your partner or yourself when it comes to getting past or working through erectile dysfunction and sex, you may want to consult an expert for tools and tips or simply for a listening ear that isn’t your partner. A disinterested source of support and advice lets you get help without any potential feelings of embarrassment that your partner could feel if you shared this problem with a mutual friend.
Even if your partner isn’t ready to see an expert, going alone could be a great start on a path to overcoming ED’s burden on your sex life or relationship. Sex therapists and counselors are quite common and can help you process these complex emotions and reactions, plus give you advice on how to talk with your partner.
ED affects both partners in a sexual relationship differently. It’s up to you and your partner to find a way to manage it.