How to Support a Partner with Erectile Dysfunction

January 25,2024 |
older couple smiling

Close to 30 million men in the U.S. age 20 and older have erectile dysfunction (ED), and 52% of men will experience a form of ED at some point during their lives. Although it's less common in individuals ages 20 to 39 (5.1%), the number grows as men age (70.2% of men 70 and older). Though erectile dysfunction only physically affects a man's body, it can be challenging for both partners in a relationship. Here, we'll provide a few ways to support your partner with ED.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. It's sometimes called impotence and can severely impact a man's self-esteem and quality of life. While ED is a medical issue, it may also be treatable with some patience and the right approach.

14 Ways to Support a Partner Suffering from Erectile Dysfunction

Many things, both physical and mental, can cause erectile dysfunction. Since everyone is different, it's important to be patient and encourage your partner to take steps to understand what's causing the issue. However, it is a sensitive topic, so be mindful of their feelings and don't push the issue. Some healthy ways to help

1. Take Yourself Out of the Equation

First, it's important to understand that although the role of the sexual partner in managing erectile dysfunction is crucial, it's not your fault. ED isn't anyone's fault and shouldn't be viewed as a condition that requires blame. Don't think of yourself as a cause of your partner's erectile dysfunction, as this can only lead to more strain in the relationship. Instead, try to be understanding and supportive of your partner so you can work through the issues together.

2. Learn About the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

If your partner is experiencing erectile dysfunction, understanding the causes can help you reclaim your sexual health. Some of the most common causes of ED include:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Mental health concerns or conditions
  • Relationship strain
  • Performance anxiety
  • General anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peyronie's disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatment for other health issues (i.e., enlarged prostate)
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Previous surgeries
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse
  • Tobacco use

3. Let Your Partner Know You Value Them

Unfortunately, there's a substantial stigma around ED. Some men think it shows a sign of weakness, while others may feel embarrassed and avoid sex altogether. This can cause men to retreat in their relationship, which leads to even more issues. One of the most important things you can do to support your partner is to let them know that you value them, regardless of your sexual relationship. Being there for them actively and passively can have a huge impact, and your partner will appreciate it.

4. Encourage Open Communication with Your Partner

Your partner may withdraw from your relationship if they're feeling embarrassed or ashamed due to any sexual dysfunction. Try to let him know that you're there to talk about it when or if he wants. Discussing ED can help process emotions, which may increase the likelihood that your partner will seek help and try different treatments. If you're both finding it difficult to talk about your partner's sexual performance, consider working with a professional counselor or sex therapist.

5. Choose the Right Time to Talk

At the same time, ED can be difficult and an extremely sensitive subject, so approach the conversation lightly. Choose a neutral time to talk, and never bring it up during an argument. While the first conversation will likely be the most difficult, it's better to have a little awkwardness than to avoid it completely.

6. Ask How You Can Help, But Don't Pressure Them

Once you start your discussion, be empathetic and ask your partner how you can help. Many men find that dealing with erectile dysfunction is more manageable with their partner's support, but if they'd prefer to handle the issue in private, don't pressure them.

7. Stay Positive and Uplifting

Another way to help your partner is to stay optimistic. Try to be part of the solution rather and suggest doing activities that don't lead to sex. Remind your partner that there are many different treatment options for ED and that the best way to find something that works is to keep trying. Maintaining a positive outlook can be contagious and help keep the mood within your relationship light. Still, you're not responsible for your partner's happiness, so don't put too much pressure on yourself.

8. Provide Some Reassurance

The prevalence of ED around the world is high, so try to remind your partner that they're not alone. It's a common condition that various factors can cause. Reassuring your partner that this is a normal condition that affects almost all men at some point can help you work together to find a solution. However, always be conscious of your partner's feelings and never try to downplay them or make them feel unheard.

9. Try Being Intimate in Other Ways

Intimacy is about more than just sex, so try to find some ways to enjoy each other's company outside of the bedroom truly. Explore new hobbies together, go on adventurous dates, and do things that help you strengthen your bond without the stress of sex hanging over you. Many couples find that bringing intimacy into their daily lives has a positive overall impact on their sexual health.

10. Make Some Changes to Your Sex Life

Another option is to try exploring each other's bodies in new ways. Add some foreplay, try new positions, or experiment with sex toys. You may also want to suggest intimate massages that help remove the pressure. Try not to rush into anything and take things slow. See how you both react and if you need help, consider seeking advice from a registered sex therapist.

11. Remove Pressure from Physical Contact

Even younger men experience performance anxiety that results in erectile dysfunction, so try to remove any pressure associated with physical contact. Don't initiate unless your partner communicates that they want to have sex. Otherwise, they may feel guilty if they're unable to perform, which can lead to a revolving door of issues.

12. Offer to Go With Your Partner to the Doctor

There are hundreds of things that can contribute to erectile dysfunction, from medical conditions and autoimmune disorders to stress and lifestyle habits. If your partner has ED, the best way to treat it is to understand what's causing it. Oftentimes, the only way to do this is to see a doctor. This can be a bit intimidating for many men, as they tend to be less likely to admit there's an issue or seek treatment for a condition they find embarrassing. Offering to go with your partner can help them feel supported, even if they'd prefer to go alone.

13. Adopt Healthier Lifestyles Together

Some men cannot get an erection due to excessive alcohol consumption or tobacco use. A sedentary lifestyle and obesity can also increase the degree of sexual problems. In these situations, a fairly straightforward treatment for ED is making a few strategic lifestyle changes. Consider adopting them together rather than trying to push changes on your partner. Doing so can help you improve your general health and decrease the risk of impotence.

14. Have Patience and Don't Give Up

Millions of men experience erectile dysfunction, and many of them find solutions that allow them to reclaim their sex lives. Addressing any physical issues that could cause ED can help, but your partner needs to be diligent and follow their doctor's medical advice.

ED medications like Levitra can be taken to help increase blood flow to the penis. Vacuum pumps and vacuum erection devices (VED) can also help increase blood flow, but it's important to understand the risks and benefits beforehand. Men experiencing ED that doesn't go away with treatment may also be eligible for penile implants. However, their doctor may refuse if your partner has certain health conditions (uncontrolled Diabetes) or injuries.

If you or your partner are experiencing ED, talk to your doctor to learn more about the treatment options available. To help you address other urologic conditions, Byram Healthcare offers a wide selection of high-quality urologic supplies that can be discreetly delivered to your door. Browse our urology product catalog today or call one of our representatives for more information.