It might seem strange to say that erectile dysfunction is one of the commonest medical conditions in men, however there’s actually quite a bit of truth to this statement. According to the National Health Service, about half of all men over the age of 40 will have problems obtaining or maintaining an erection at some point in their lives.
A healthy sex life is very important to most relationships; when something directly impacts this aspect of the partnership, it may seem catastrophic. There is one thing, however, that couples should always keep in mind when dealing with erectile dysfunction: it is usually treatable.
Being the significant other of someone with erectile dysfunction (ED) can lead to a great deal of frustration, but anger can often lead nowhere and in fact anxiety and stress can contribute to ED. The person suffering from ED does not need more stress; increasing his stress levels can even make things worse.
Understanding, empathy, companionship and tolerance are fundamental to facing the condition and managing it correctly. It only makes sense that ED and other sexual health issues become much easier to cope with when you have the support of your spouse.
Make this ‘our struggle’
As you can imagine, losing such a vital physical function (however temporary it may be) can cause a man to doubt his very manhood; to withdraw, experience guilt and many other emotions. Every relationship is different but if you can demonstrate to your partner that you are there for him every step of the way, you can then manage to address the situation together. Consider couples counselling to help you both deal with the emotional effects of the condition.
Learn about ED
In order to successfully support your partner with erectile dysfunction it only makes sense to learn as much as you can about it. Developing a deeper understanding of why this can physically happen may help you gain insight into your own relationship, perhaps even allowing you to help your GP discern what may be the cause of the condition in your partner.
Many men say their partners know them even better than they know themselves and it is often true; you may be able to recognise factors in his diet, physical condition and even emotional state of mind that are not apparent to another onlooker.
Take the pressure off
Yes, intimacy may be a vital part of your relationship, but the more pressure you can take off of your partner to perform, the better off you’ll both be. Performance anxiety is a very real thing and can be one of the key factors behind erectile dysfunction. Working as a couple to make intimate interludes more relaxed can result in a better and more satisfying sex life; and help diminish or even eliminate erectile dysfunction.
Change your lifestyle together
Tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and unhealthy lifestyle habits such as a poor diet can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Talk to your general practitioner to see if any of these substances are contributing to the condition. If the doctor recommends to stop drinking or smoking, do support your partner to change his habits.
If you too consume these substances, quitting together not only represents a huge show of support for your partner, but can also encourage a healthier overall lifestyle. A healthy couple is a happy couple and in order to tackle ED or any other health issue you simply have to give yourselves the best possible foundation.
ED is not an easy subject to discuss; your partner may even feel embarrassed to speak to his doctor about it. If that is the case, then a calm and positive reminder that there is treatment for his condition and that it can be cured can be a great motivator to overcome the awkwardness of the first visit. If medication like sildenafil or tadalafil is prescribed, encouraging your partner to take it according to the doctor’s orders can promote better adherence to the treatment. This in turn leads to better results.
Become familiar with the medication, the way it works and the possible side effects. It will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of what your partner is going through, and help reduce any pressure and anxiety that may surface during the treatment process.
You are not alone
The physical and emotional aspects of erectile dysfunction can make it a very complicated ailment to deal with. Standing by your partner’s side and reminding him that he is not alone in this process and will receive all the support, understanding and care he needs from you can make an enormous difference.
For your own peace of mind, remember that you are not alone. You may find solace discussing the issue with a therapist or just unburdening yourself with trusted friends. Many couples deal with ED on a regular basis. Walk through the process together and you’ll find that together you can achieve a pleasant and satisfying sex life.