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SP | 4 ways erectile dysfunction affects your relationship

By Will Stroude


Erectile dysfunction (ED) sometimes feels like no-mans-land. No-one wants to admit they have it, therefore it feels like nobody does. Talking casually to friends, it’s not a phrase that naturally appears in conversation, instead there are unrealistic expectations to ‘always be ready’. Bombarded by intimate scenes in films, TV and the media, not one of them has yet spoken to the experiences of erectile dysfunction.

For these reasons, people living with erectile dysfunction often feel alone. Whereas in reality, those experiencing erectile dysfunction stand in the majority. Population studies show that 52% of society are likely to experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives[i].

A sometimes physiological sometimes psychological condition, erectile dysfunction is likely to affect a man and their partner in many more ways than simply lacking the ability to have penetrative sex. Before this condition infiltrates your relationship, learn of the 4 ways erectile dysfunction can sour partnerships and the exact advice we recommend taking to stop these changes in their tracks.

1) Lack of Intimacy

The obvious takes first place. What makes your most valued relationship unique is the exclusive level of intimacy you share with just one person. When erectile dysfunction takes hold, it can blur the lines between partner and best friend.

Are you experiencing this? Here’s what to do…

Find physical intimacy in other ways. Intimacy does not rely solely on penetrative sex. When was the last time a stranger saw you in your birthday suit? Enjoying your partner’s body can take many forms and all equate to intimacy. Whether through touch, shared showering or late night baths, it’s important to explore all avenues available to you. It could be just the thing to take that invisible lead weight of pressure off your shoulders.

2) Avoidance of Verbal Communication

Viagra is the most popularly known solution to erectile dysfunction and statistics tell that as a population we’d much rather self-medicate than communicate. Since Viagra’s introduction in 1998, within 10 years, 25 million prescriptions had been filled[ii]. When erectile dysfunction strikes, it’s not just physical intimacy that’s lost. It’s embarrassing, you don’t want to talk about it, and you just want it to go away.

Are you experiencing this? Here’s what to do…

Make up for what you’re not able to give intimately, in words. Withdrawing both physical and emotional communication together, places a large strain on any relationship. It may not feel natural, but talking about erectile dysfunction may just be the solution that keeps you together.

3) Lower Self-Esteem

Erectile dysfunction is directly linked to lowering of your self-esteem[iii] and what affects you also effects your partner. Wherever there’s a problem to be resolved, it’s natural to wonder if you’re causing it yourself. This applies for both people in an ED effected relationship. Your partner may begin to wonder – do they still find me attractive? Am I doing something wrong? Is it me?

Are you experiencing this? Here’s what to do…

Find other ways to communicate your love and admiration for each other. Be sure to complement each other genuinely and insightfully at least 3 times a day. Share kisses, cuddles and enjoy other intimate activities. While the bedroom doors are closed, enjoy romantic meals out, try a new hobby together or plan adventure filled weekends away. Self-esteem is developed from feelings of value and acceptance, instead of avoiding your partner for embarrassment, do the opposite.

4) Becoming a Relationship Spectator

According to Everaerd, ‘people with [psychological] sexual dysfunction tend to wait and look for the occurrence of feelings, instead of feeling what occurs. Hence the spectator role[iv]’. Whether through stress or distraction, this psychological distance prevents you from being present in the moment. If you’re a spectator, you’re never truly living and experiencing, you’re just waiting. This can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety.

Are you experiencing this? Here’s what to do…

Practise mindfulness. A meditation based technique that helps to focus your mind on the moment. How much attention do you pay your partner after 8 hours at work? Do you engage or do you find solace in social media? It’s time to ditch moment taking distractions and practise actually living in the moment.

Erectile dysfunction has many causes, ranging from psychological to physiological triggers. If you’ve been experiencing erectile dysfunction, your symptoms may be indicative of a more urgent underlying condition. Erectile dysfunction is often a pre-meditator of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Are you experiencing erectile dysfunction? It’s time to seek medical attention.

At International Andrology we’re here to help. We are experts in sexual health. Our tailored treatment plans will not only check for underlying causes but also provide immediate solutions. Contact us today to learn more.

[i] Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Urol 1994;151:54-61.


[iii] Stanley E. et al. Impact of Erectile Dysfunction on Confidence, Self-Esteem and Relationship Satisfaction After 9 Months of Sildenafil Citrate Treatment. The Journal of Urology , Volume 176 , Issue 5 , 2132 – 2137.

[iv] Bancroft et al. “Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction in the Era of Pharmacotherapy”, Male Sexual Function: A Guide to Clinical Management, 2001, Humana Press, 79—89.

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