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Despite being a common male health condition, many men find erectile dysfunction (otherwise known as ED) a difficult subject to talk about – with one in five men too embarrassed to talk to their doctor.

Naturally, erectile dysfunction can have a negative impact on a man’s sex life – especially if left untreated. However, it’s not just the man it affects. Without knowing the reasons for erectile dysfunction , many partners may take it personally. They may think their partner isn’t attracted to them, that they’re bored, or even seeing someone else. Unfortunately, 1 in 20 divorces are thought to be caused by untreated long-term health conditions , which is why it’s so important for you, as their partner, to understand the facts.

Understanding erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction causes can be physical or psychological, ranging from sexual performance anxiety to smoking . With about 8 in 10 erectile dysfunction cases traced back to physical issues such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or hormonal problems such as low testosterone, this means the chances of your partner’s ED problems being caused by you a lot less likely.

It is estimated that half of all men aged between 40 and 70 experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives – but it’s not just an older man’s condition. Though it is more common in men over 40, research indicates a prevalence of ED in younger men .

Anything that interferes with blood flow to the penis can create erection problems (you can read the full list of ED causes here) – and the sooner it’s diagnosed, the faster it can be treated.

Helping a partner with erectile dysfunction

If you think your husband, partner or boyfriend has erectile dysfunction , the best way to resolve the stress, awkwardness and ultimately, the cause of it, is by working together. Here are eight constructive ways to support a partner experiencing erectile dysfunction:

  1. Do your research. The more you know about erectile dysfunction, the more you can help your partner. Remember, erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of some medical problems such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes , so it’s crucial to get checked out.
  2. Talk openly. It’s never easy discussing sexually sensitive issues, but choosing a moment when your partner is comfortable is the first step towards dealing with it together (it is wise to avoid doing this immediately after an incident of ED).
  3. Seek medical advice together. Not only will this reassure him that he’s not alone, speaking to a professional is also crucial to finding out if an underlying medical or psychological condition may be causing erectile dysfunction.
  4. Exercise together. Working out on a regular basis is a brilliant way to get the blood pumping and improve blood pressure . Being overweight can be a cause of ED , so try taking up a sport with your partner or encourage them to go to the gym a few times a week.
  5. Suggest erectile dysfunction treatment . There are plenty of options available to help your partner. Tablet medicines include Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Other erectile dysfunction treatments can include injections, creams and urethral suppositories, as well as vacuum constriction devices, penile implants and surgery, which are often considered by older men.
  6. Make lifestyle changes. Fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains can help with erection problems , so cook more wholesome food together. If you both drink alcohol or smoke, cutting down can be good for you as well as your partner’s erectile dysfunction.
  7. Take a break from sex. Harnessing a greater emotional connection with your partner can ultimately create a more intimate relationship. By discussing issues openly and sensitively, you can take the pressure off your partner sexually (especially important for overcoming sexual performance anxiety).
  8. No pressure. Avoid getting frustrated if your partner cannot get or maintain his erection – remember it doesn’t reflect negatively on you or him. Showing your partner you’re with him every step of the way, staying positive, discussing feelings and letting him know you care is the most important thing.

Seek medical expertise

If your partner is suffering from erectile dysfunction and it’s affecting your love life, getting medical expertise together is the first step towards treatment. If your partner is still unsure, gently remind him that erectile dysfunction can affect any man at any age, so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Our online doctor service can help you find the cause of your partner’s erectile dysfunction and diminish the impact of the condition on your relationship.