Men with ED struggle with their feelings about their sexuality -- but so do the women in their lives. In WebMD's Erectile Dysfunction Community, the partners of men with erectile dysfunction discuss how to balance their own anxieties, frustrations, and needs with those of the men they love.
A woman whose partner has difficulty maintaining a firm erection worries that he may no longer be attracted to her. He tells her that it's not her, she says. As a couple, they are working on the issue, but she wonders if desirability can be a factor in the development of ED.
Sometimes, women blame themselves if their partner develops ED, observes another woman who is in the same situation. Is it her fault? Has she lost her desirability? Why do women's feelings seem to be left out of discussions about the effects of ED?
One man says that women whose partners have ED need to know that the problem is not with their desirability. He notes that his wife was also frustrated and upset when he developed ED. But when he was able to explain to her that he still wanted her as much as ever, she was able to understand, and they became more patient with each other. He advises women to speak with their partners in a non-threatening way -- perhaps not during intimacy -- and to keep at it if he initially avoids the conversation. Assure him that you're willing to work with him and that you love him, he adds.
ED can make it difficult to maintain an interest in intimacy, one woman observes. She's started to avoid sex with her husband of 29 years. She found immediate empathy from another woman in the same situation, whose husband refuses to see a doctor about his ED. One man responds that his high blood pressure medications caused a similar problem, and advises a visit to the doctor that includes a candid discussion about ED.
Sheldon Marks, MD, cautions that not all erectile problems can be solved with good foreplay and an accepting attitude -- a lack of desirability rarely has anything to do with ED. Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of medications or related to certain health issues, including:
- Hormonal imbalance
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Marks recommends that women whose partners struggle with ED gently advise them to see a primary care doctor for a full work-up.
There are so many effective treatments that there is no reason to sit and do nothing, Marks says.