From a woman’s perspective:

Can We Talk About Erectile Dysfunction?

It’s not a man’s problem, it’s a relationship problem

Photo by Jan Zhukov on Unsplash

We have been exchanging flirty texts all day. Starting off slowly and carefully, just stating how much we miss each other and can’t wait to see each other that night. It morphed into proper sexting, detailing what would happen, what he would do, what I should do. My horniness increased by the minute — just words, but very important words — and his too. I couldn’t wait to get out of work, the car ride home felt like an eternity, the wait to get the kids to bed was just unbearable but arousing too. And then we were finally there, kissing and caressing, trying to get out of our clothes as quick as possible, not even wanting to make it to the bedroom. And then… nothing. Frustration. Anger. Guilt. Guilt tripping. Embarrassment. Shame. Helplessness. Long silence. An apology from both sides. And more frustration. Ending up him sleeping on the couch, probably watching porn, waking up tired and moody.

We’ve been there quite a few times. And we couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t and I didn’t know what to do about it either.

The commercials make it look oh-so-simple. There’s the guy, suffering from erectile dysfunction, shown by troubled faces change into earth-shattering passion and confidence at the very moment of popping a blue pill. Testimonials from women swooning about the regained passion and stamina — everything is pastel coloured, rosy and even the closed bedroom door radiates happiness and satisfaction.

The magic pill solves it all, thank you Pfizer — and thanks for all the generic brands following the lead. Only it’s not that simple, not all the time at least. It is great to have it at hand, but it is treating the effect, not the cause — and it’s way too easy to reach out to it, leaving the problem undiscovered. Not to mention that it is quite pricey and not everyone can afford it. So much for the magical pill.

What it doesn’t show you is how distressful it can feel for a woman to experience erectile dysfunction within a relationship. Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, can be frustrating, even devastating, to a man. But it can be equally so for his partner as well.

ED, or erectile dysfunction, is medically defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. It is said that virtually all men experience some erection failures at certain points in their lives. The major culprits would be stress, depression, or other mental health issues in some cases. In other cases, it is due to physical factors, such as obesity, heart conditions, high cholesterol, inefficient blood flow, undiagnosed diabetes. It can be a one-off occasion, or for some, the problem can become a chronic condition.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s important for both men and women to realise that ED is not at all uncommon affecting 50% of men in the U.S. who experience some form of sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. ED is one of the most common male sexual problems, affecting an estimated 30 million men in the U.S. and approximately 140 million men worldwide.

And while it seems to be a man’s problem, this is far from the truth. The moment it occurs within a relationship, it affects two lives and it has detrimental effects not only on the man but on his partner and on the relationship.

Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

ED is more a relationship problem than a male sexual problem.

Women usually internalise things. They tend to look for a reason and they tend to find it in themselves, blaming themselves, thinking it’s because they have done something wrong, or that they are no longer attractive to their partner. Or hinting that there is an affair in the background that can cause a lack of interest. It can result in anger, hurt, distrust and in extreme cases the falling out of the relationship.

Often a line of questioning results in both parties being offended and hurt, the lack of initiation becomes more common — to avoid the possible rejection or failure.

The solution for it highly depends on how the couple is willing to acknowledge it as a problem and how they chose to tackle it. There are the overcomers, with a strong desire to find a solution together, and there are the resigners, who admit to the problem but choose to ignore it without doing anything about actively, waiting for it to magically resolve on its own.

When the issue derives more from mental blocks than actual chronic physical issues there are quite a few everyday solutions that can improve the problem.

Seek professional help

Sometimes the solution is easier than it seems. It can take the form of discovering a long-hidden depression or anxiety that causes ED as a side effect, in which case it’s not ED that needs to be treated but with solving the root problem it resolves on its own with time. Other times adjusting the diet, consuming better-quality food, taking vitamin D supplement can already help. Physical exercise can also be a solution in mild cases, just as testosterone supplement can be.

Take the stress out of the equation

Stress is detrimental in every aspect of life, of course, it can affect a man’s manhood too. Being frustrated, stressed, tired and drowning in work can result in ED. Go on a vacation, take a day off, try to decrease the causes of stress — popping a pill here won’t help. Getting stressed didn’t happen overnight, it is a longer process. Winding down from it and eliminating stress-factors won’t happen overnight either, but it’s a good start.

Communication

If the woman is experiencing a pullback from the man it confirms her initial belief that she indeed has done something wrong, so she retreats further. This can increase the levels of anxiety and depression that will only worsen the physical symptoms for the man. The ned result can be them stopping to communicate altogether, that will only make problems worse. If the woman withdraws that is the perfect relationship disaster. It ends up being a tragic dance and before you know it, it leaves unforgettable marks on the relationship.

Being able to talk about it is the first step. To open a line of communication is paramount in resolving ED. It is not an easy topic to talk about. It requires a lot of trust, maturity and understanding. But not talking about it can significantly affect first the sex life, and eventually even the whole of the relationship.

Loosen up and do not try harder

If it is not spelt out that the ED is not the result of losing interest, some women might feel the urge to seduce their partners, to prove their own worth and attractiveness. And while in any other case showing some skin and get down to sexy texts is a fun and helpful way to improve the relationship — it can be very frustrating and downright counterproductive in this case. Wearing sexy clothes or stroking him harder will not cut it, as the problem is not in getting aroused, it is about not being able to maintain an erection satisfyingly long enough.

Take the focus off penetration

Incredible but true, that not only penetrative sex can bring mutual satisfaction to a couple. From a woman’s perspective, it is more commonly understood that oral or manual stimulation can get her there. It is less understood that for a male orgasm an erection is not a precondition either. It is important to keep the intimacy, the cuddles, and probably to shift the focus to her pleasure. Sometimes the most frustrating feeling about ED is the feeling of failure as in not being able to satisfy the woman. Which is not true, as most women only experience or just prefer clitoral orgasms to penetrative ones. This time can be taken as a great experience in different sexual experimenting, giving way to various solutions, other than PiV.

And most importantly, shift the mindset. It is not a man’s problem. It is a relationship problem. Erectile dysfunction, in general, is not about the woman. And while women don’t need to take responsibility for their partner’s ED many women can and do play a critical role in supporting men to seek and find treatment.

Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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