My husband has been having some trouble having and maintaining an erection lately. We have never had this problem before and he assures me that he is not fooling around with another woman and that he still wants me. We don’t have sex very often anymore and I think it is because he is afraid it won’t work. He won’t go to the doctor about it either and says he is not going to use any of those drugs that are advertised on television. Is there anything that I can do to help him? I miss having a sex life and I know it is not helping our relationship either but he refuses to talk about it.
Thank you for asking this question. Interestingly, most of the questions that I get about erectile dysfunction or ED come from the female partners rather than the men themselves. This is not surprising I suppose given that 90 percent of men never seek treatment for this problem. In a US survey, it was found that two thirds of the men never raised the issue with their doctor for fear of embarrassing them or because they thought their sexual issues would be dismissed or not be treatable. In Worldwide studies, the incidence of ED is never less than 10 percent and often as high as 30 percent depending on the study demographics. It is estimated that ED affects 100 million men worldwide (18 million in the US) and that this number is expected to double by 2025.
The tragedy of all of this silent suffering is that not only can medical intervention frequently help with this condition, but ED symptoms are also early warning signs of a variety of other illnesses that need diagnosis and treatment. Erectile dysfunction can result from a wide variety of conditions both psychological and physical. While ageing is definitely the most significant predictor, a man’s overall health and well-being is also a big factor in its likelihood. Other factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction include cardiovascular disease, nerve or spinal cord damage, cigarette smoking, low testosterone levels, prescription medications, depression, stress and anxiety.
Getting and keeping an erection is a complex process that involves psychological impulses, adequate hormones, a functioning nervous system and healthy vascular tissue of the penis. This is why seeing a doctor when incidence of erectile dysfunction is occurs fifty percent of the time or more is so important. Figuring out what part of the process is causing the problem can provide a range of options to deal with it. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as cleaning up your health habits: ie Stop smoking, eating well, maintaining regular exercise and reducing stress. There are also a wide range of alternative therapies that have helped many men improve their overall health and recover from ED symptoms.
Not surprisingly, avoiding sexual intimacy is also related to erectile dysfunction symptoms. In a Finnish study, it was found that men who had sexual intercourse less than once per week were twice as likely to develop ED symptoms than men who had sex weekly. More frequent sex reduced the incidence of ED symptoms even more. So the use it or lose it phenomenon of sexual functioning applies to both men and women, and ongoing sexual inactivity can lead to disorders that can later make sexual activity difficult.
The most important thing that you can do for your partner is to get him to see a doctor to diagnose the situation. Sharing some of the resources and information about this issue and how common it is might make it easier for you to discuss together.
Sexual pleasure can happen in so many ways that have nothing to do with intercourse, but they require communicating and touching. Encouraging him to love himself enough to seek the care he needs is a great way to rebuild the intimacy you want in your relationship.
Wendy Strgar is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. Wendy helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. As her online presence continues to grow, Wendy has become a trusted and respected source of information on lasting and healthy relationships. “I feel like I am inventing a language to give intimacy back to the people, take the fear away and open a space for physical love to serve as the glue that holds relationships together.” Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.