There is a great deal of information targeted towards men as it relates to erectile dysfunction. At first glance, this makes good sense. The problem is one that is physically experienced only by men. However, they are not the only ones affected by it. Women are often the silent sufferers when this condition strikes. Erectile dysfunction can negatively impact both partners and place tremendous strain on their relationship. If not handled correctly, it could spell the end of a partnership or even a marriage.
Women tend to feel like their partner’s erectile dysfunction is their fault. They often mistakenly believe that their husband’s or boyfriend’s inability to get an erection and/or maintain one, is due to them no longer being attractive or good enough. This is often not the case at all. The vast majority of erection dysfunction problems is due to some underlying physical cause. The most common conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
In an effort to cure “her man” many women take actions that end up making things worse and straining the relationship. Some women will attempt to dress sexier or try harder to be more erotic in bed. Because erectile dysfunction has nothing to do with a man not being able to be aroused, these behaviors typically cause the man to become more stressed because he feels pressure to perform and respond sexually when he can not. Consequently, he may end up feeling guilty or embarrassed. In many cases, the man begins to pull away and may eventually stop attempting to have sex and may turn down his partner because of the fear of not being able to get an erection. He may also begin to withdraw.
In response to this pulling away by her partner, a woman may either press in harder in an attempt to arouse him or find out what is “wrong” or check out of the relationship emotionally. A woman’s self esteem often drops in these instances because they associate their partner being unable to perform with some sort of inadequacy that they must possess. When he begins to pull away, they see this as further evidence of them not being lovable or attractive enough and respond in kind
Other women take an opposite approach and begin peppering their partners with questions and suggestions about how to improve their ED. While the reactions to the problem may be different, the results are often the same. The relationship becomes fractured and strained. The man feels bad and so does the woman.
Woman who are dealing with a partner with erectile dysfunction need to first understand that their partner’s inability to get an erection likely has absolutely nothing to do with them. In the vast majority of these cases, the problem is not psychological but physical. To be completely balanced, stress, depression and anxiety can cause ED but this typically is not the cause. However, if it is, it is important for a woman to encourage her boyfriend or husband to get help. If the problem is not psychological a woman should also do her best to make sure that her partner sees a doctor and gets a complete physical.
In the interim, while the medication and treatments are taking effect, women should discuss ways with their partner to still be intimate even if it doesn’t include having sex. These discussions should take place outside of the bedroom when possible and not in the middle of a failed attempt to have sex. If a woman recognizes that her partner’s inability to get an erection or maintain one is not her fault and that ED is a condition that affects nearly all men eventually, she will be able to continue to feel good about her self and subsequently, adequately support her mate.
By nehal abidi medical student
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