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Erectile Dysfunction: A Partner’s Guide To Help And Support Your Man

Erectile dysfunction. The mere mention of the word makes most people uncomfortable, even if they’ve never experienced it first-hand. How much more so for those who have?

Sometimes referred to as impotence, erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs when a man can’t get or maintain an erection firm enough for penetrative intercourse. While it should be easy to shrug off the occasional instance of ED, it can be devastating when this becomes the norm.

This distress doesn’t only extend to the men who suffer from ED. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the challenging position of having to support an intimate partner with this ailment. Perhaps you feel that, despite your best efforts, you’re constantly falling short and seem only to make things worse.

As discouraged as you may feel, don’t lose hope. There are many effective treatments for erectile dysfunction that can help you restore your sex life to its former glory. In the meantime, there are many ways you can support your partner and maintain loving intimacy in your relationship.

Here are some tips for helping and caring for your partner with ED:


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As in all aspects of your relationship, open communication regarding ED is essential. While this may initially be extremely difficult for both of you, the risks of not talking about it far outweigh this understandable initial discomfort.

In reality, a kind and thoughtful conversation on the subject can actually dispel unfounded fears, reduce pressure on both sides, and allow your partner to feel supported.

Here are some tips on how to approach a conversation with your partner about ED:

  • Do it in a safe space. ED is not a subject for pillow talk or while out in public. Instead, have your conversation in a place and time where neither of you feels too exposed or vulnerable.
  • Remind your partner that he is not alone as nearly half of UK men experience ED to some degree. Similarly, the American Urology Association reports that chronic ED affects almost 30 million men in the US.
  • Reassure your man that ED is treatable and that you’re committed to supporting him every step of the way toward finding solutions. Studies show that 94% of men with ED view their partner’s support as an important part of coping with their ED.
  • Tell him that you continue to respect and desire him and don’t see him as any less of a man because of his ED. Add that his health and well-being are more important to you than sex.
  • If you’re afraid he no longer finds you desirable, share this fear with him. Your open vulnerability will show him that feelings of insecurity are natural and that expressing them can help you both. He will likely also reassure you that he still very much desires you.
  • Tell him that you’re open to alternative expressions of intimacy while you seek solutions for ED. This will show that you still desire him and want to be close to him, even if penetrative sex isn’t happening right now.
  • Create room for him to share his own feelings without fear of judgment. Also, respect his need for space or sometimes not talk about it.

This conversation will create a strong foundation for your relationship, which you can rely on when the pursuit of solutions feels too hard. Remind him of these points whenever he seems discouraged, such as after a failed attempt at intercourse or a disappointing doctor’s appointment.



Ideally, your first port of call should be a doctor (likely a urologist) to establish any possible medical causes. This is because ED may be a sign of a (possibly serious) underlying medical condition. Better to be safe than sorry.

You should offer to accompany your partner to his doctor’s appointment, but if he prefers to go alone, respect his decision.

Note that certain external factors, including some medications, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and even stress, can play a role in ED. If the doctor recommends lifestyle changes, such as a new diet or quitting smoking, you can really help your man by supporting or even joining him in adopting healthier habits.

There may also be prescription medication that he can take to help him achieve and maintain an erection. The doctor will evaluate his situation and decide whether this is the correct course of treatment—either temporarily or on a more long-term basis.

Your partner’s doctor may also recommend individual or couples counseling for non-medical causes of erectile dysfunction. These may include stress, depression, other issues within your relationship, or even simple performance anxiety.

If the doctor does not suggest therapy, consider raising the subject yourself.



Since sex is generally an emotional and physical experience, emotional issues can aggravate and even cause erectile dysfunction.

This is where a professional couple’s counselor or sex therapist can be an invaluable resource. These experts can guide you to deal with any challenges within your relationship, whether inside or outside the bedroom. Sex therapists, in particular, can share a wealth of knowledge about enhancing your sex life, even before the issue of ED is raised.

Your therapist may also recommend that one or both of you seek individual counseling. Talking about your relationship and your issues to a neutral professional, outside of your partner’s hearing, can go a long way to reducing stress, which will benefit both you and your relationship.


Start by establishing an atmosphere of loving trust through frequent non-sexual touch, like kissing, cuddling, and hand-holding. Then, when you’re ready to turn up the heat a little, try methods of stimulation other than penetration, such as foreplay and body exploration, to turn one another on.

Even without penetration, you can still enjoy a fun, fulfilling sex life.


Though it can be immensely challenging at times, erectile dysfunction does not have to destroy your relationship or either partner’s mental health. There are plenty of effective treatment options for ED and many ways in which you can support your partner.

Remember to communicate openly, stay informed, be kind to yourselves and each other, and never lose hope!


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