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How to Deal with Erectile Dysfunction in a Relationship: A Guide for Partners

You got yourself looking (and feeling) as sexy as possible for your man, you set the mood, hopped between the sheets, but then things fell flat—literally.

What’s going on down there? Should you say something?

If you’re stressing over how to deal with erectile dysfunction in your relationship, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that ED can make partners feel anxious, confused, and undesirable. Whether you’ve been married for years or you’ve only dated for a week, ED is notorious for causing relationship problems.

The good news is this isn’t the end of your sex life. With the right steps, you and your partner get back on track in the bedroom. But first, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing the problem.

two people chatting in bed

First, Find the Root Cause of Your Partner’s Erectile Dysfunction

When your partner has trouble getting or maintaining an erection, you may feel like it’s your fault. But chances are that’s not the case.

“It’s pretty rare for the source of ED to be the person that he’s having sex with,” says sex and relationship expert Ian Kerner, Ph.D. “Some women will feel like, ‘He’s not attracted to me, he’s not into me, or he’s bored by me.’ And that’s really relatively rare compared to the other more likely factors.”

Erections might seem simple: either it goes up, or it doesn’t. But many factors determine whether a man gets hard enough for sex. These factors fall into two categories: physical and psychological.

Physical Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Some underlying health conditions and medications inhibit blood flow to the penis, which can cause erectile problems. Here are some potential physical causes of your partner’s ED:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Side effects from prescription medications, including antidepressants and muscle relaxers
  • Consumption of recreational drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, and opiates
  • Complications from COVID-19—preliminary research has shown that the coronavirus increases the risk of developing ED by nearly six times. (The study was aptly named “Mask up to keep it up.”)

Psychological Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Did you know erections start in the brain, which sends signals to open up the blood vessels in the penis? That means whatever happens in your partner’s head affects what happens...down there.

Here are some psychological issues that might contribute to your partner’s ED:

  • Mental health issues such as depression and low self-esteem
  • Excessive stress and/or exhaustion
  • Body image issues
  • Sexual performance anxiety

How to Know if Your Partner’s ED Is Physical or Psychological

Partners ask this common question about ED, mainly because there’s not an easy way to find out unless you visit a healthcare professional. That said, younger guys (40 or younger) tend to be affected more by psychological issues, while older guys tend to experience more physical issues.

If your partner gets erections sometimes (in the morning, while masturbating, or randomly) but doesn’t get hard during foreplay or when you initiate sex, this might be an indication that the issue is more psychological than physical.

Remember: sexual problems are complex, so it’s best to avoid generalizations about your partner’s ED until you both know the facts.

4 Tips for Partners to Deal with Erectile Dysfunction

Whether your partner’s ED is physical, psychological, or both, it’s important to approach the situation without judging or pressuring him. ED alone can be embarrassing, so there’s no need to make the situation more stressful.

Here are four ways you can help your man overcome ED:

1. Have an Honest Conversation

Ignoring ED and hoping it resolves itself on its own isn’t a smart idea for either of you—in fact, it might exacerbate it. If you notice your partner has erection problems, let him know it’s not the end of the world.

When communicating with your partner about ED, UCLA urologists recommend letting him know a few things:

  • ED doesn’t make him any less of a man or less desirable
  • Sex isn’t as important as his physical and mental wellbeing
  • You’re willing to work through this with him

2. Try Something New in the Bedroom

Experimenting with new sexual activities can take the pressure off your partner so he can get aroused.

One of the easiest ways to spice up your sex life is with sex toys like penis rings and vibrators. It can even be as simple as changing where you have sex. If you’re always in the bedroom, maybe try to get busy in the shower together. A change of scenery can ignite the spark you need.

3. See if Your Partner Is Willing to Try ED Medication

Your man might be under the impression that ED medications aren’t for “real men” or that they’re only for old guys with gray hair. But the reality is millions of guys use medications like sildenafil and tadalafil (the active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis) to get stronger, harder, longer-lasting erections.

In the past, getting a prescription was awkward (and expensive). But now the process is done entirely online for a fraction of the price.

At BlueChew, our ED treatment options contain the same active ingredients as Viagra and Cialis in chewable tablets, with subscriptions starting at just $20 per month. There are no consultation fees, no embarrassing trips to a urology clinic, and no crazy prices. Plus, he'll get medical advice to help him decide which treatment option is best for his particular situation.

If your man is 18 or older and you think he might benefit from an ED medication, he can get started here.

4. Suggest Counseling or Sex Therapy

If your partner’s ED is caused by his brain and not his body, speaking with a licensed counselor or sex therapist can help him find and address the root cause of his difficulties. That can involve strategies to manage anxiety or improve self-confidence.

If possible, consider couples counseling. This can give your guy some much-need moral support, not to mention it might resolve the issue faster. In fact, one medical journal suggests that 50-70% of men with stress-related ED improve their symptoms when their partner attends sessions with them.

Patience Is Key for Partners

If your partner is dealing with ED, you might feel pressure to resolve it quickly. But don’t lose hope if you don’t see results overnight. Sex is a team sport, so you’ll both have to be patient and put in the effort. Soon enough, getting hard will be easy for your partner.

Get Started with BlueChew today!