Rescue Your Marriage: Help for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can wreak havoc in a marriage. It breeds feelings of shame, resentment, and discontent, which serve no purpose in marriage. This is further compounded by the lack of intimacy and frustration that occurs when couples experience problems in the bedroom.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Erectile dysfunction affects more than 30 million men in the United States alone. Clearly, it is a common occurrence in many couples’ sex lives. Does this mean that your marriage is over? Absolutely not! That you’ll never have a regular sex life again? No way! There is always hope as long as you are both willing to try.
In this post, we delve into the specifics of erectile dysfunction, including causes, treatments, and, most importantly, how to support your spouse with ED and move forward together—happier, stronger, and thriving.
First, we’ll break down erectile dysfunction for you so you can equip yourself with sufficient knowledge to understand what is going on with your spouse physically and mentally and be more prepared to broach the topic. Then, we’ll dive into tips to work through this as a couple and provide your spouse with the support they need to overcome this.
We’ve tried to cover the crucial questions you and your spouse may have, like “What is erectile dysfunction?”, “What causes erectile dysfunction?”, “Can you treat erectile dysfunction?” and more so that you can both rest assured that there is a way forward.
As difficult and overwhelming as ED in marriage may be, if you work together to understand what it is, how to treat it, and how to still enjoy intimacy and connection, you’re guaranteed to come out stronger on the other side of this!
Table of Contents
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, commonly known as ED, is the inability to get an erection or maintain one firm enough for sexual intercourse. It’s not unusual for men to occasionally experience trouble having an erection. However, if it is an ongoing, persistent issue, it may indicate a more serious underlying health condition.
There is a common misconception that men with ED are merely unable to get an erection before sex. This is not true. Many men who have erectile dysfunction may still get an erection, but it does not stay firm enough for satisfactory sexual performance.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction affects men of all ages, and there are many physical and psychological factors that may be responsible. Therefore, it is vital to get to the bottom of what is causing erectile dysfunction since treating the underlying health issue can, in most cases, reverse the ED.
Erectile dysfunction causes and risk factors include (but are not limited to):
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Hypertension (High blood pressure)
- High cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Prostate problems
- Chronic sleep disorders
- Low testosterone levels
- Obesity or being overweight
- Unhealthy diet; lack of exercise
- Excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol
- Depression; anxiety; excessive stress
This list of erectile dysfunction causes is certainly not exhaustive, so seeking professional help from a urologist or healthcare provider is essential to identify the underlying cause and swiftly treat it.
It’s essential to help your spouse understand that there is usually an underlying cause for erectile dysfunction. This will highlight the potential health risks and reiterate that it is not a performance issue or something to feel insecure or ashamed about. It is a medical issue that can be treated.
Erectile Dysfunction: Making A Diagnosis
If your spouse does have erectile dysfunction, the main priority would be to visit a healthcare provider to determine if there is an underlying cause and treat it accordingly.
This is what you and your spouse need to hold on to—there is hope, and the quicker you get it checked out, the better it is for your spouse’s overall health and the health of your marriage and sex life.
Tests for erectile dysfunction may include:
- Patient history (this will include questions about one’s lifestyle, use of drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, pre-existing conditions, family history, symptoms of erectile dysfunction, etc.)
- Physical examinations with a specific focus on the penile region
- Urine sample
- Blood work to test for hormone levels, sugar levels, etc.
- An ultrasound to assess penile blood flow
The extent of testing performed will depend on any risk factors or pre-existing medical conditions. However, knowing what to expect can help reduce any shame, insecurity, or anxiety your spouse may be feeling about a potential doctor’s visit.
Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
The type of erectile dysfunction treatment your spouse may receive is highly dependent on the underlying cause, their age, the extent of ED, their lifestyle and habits (drug or tobacco use), prescription medication, and medical conditions.
Treatment options for erectile dysfunction include:
- Oral medication that facilitates increased blood flow to the penis (i.e., Sildenafil, Vardenafil, Tadalafil, and Avanafil)
- Testosterone replacement therapy
- Medication injected directly into the penis (ICI therapy)
- Suppositories injected into the urethra (IU therapy)
- Vacuum erection device that facilitates a temporary erection
- Penile implants (this involves surgery and is the most invasive option)
- Healthy diet and lifestyle changes
- Reduce smoking, drug, and alcohol use
- Incorporate an exercise regime
- Stress management techniques to lower stress levels (meditation, mindfulness practices, deep breathing, etc.)
- Therapy or counseling to treat depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
This list should give you and your spouse hope and the positive mindset that you need to understand that you can overcome this. ED can be significantly improved by implementing basic lifestyle changes together.
Encourage and motivate each other to commit to a healthier lifestyle and reap the rewards of this bonding and connection, in and out of the bedroom.
Erectile Dysfunction: The Way Forward
We’ve discussed erectile dysfunction at length so that you and your spouse can use this information to make an informed decision about moving forward and treating the problem.
However, our main focus is actually the way forward, emotionally, as a couple. Sex and intimacy play a pivotal role in marriage, and while erectile dysfunction can throw a wrench in the works and create tension, lack of intimacy, and self-esteem issues, amongst others, it is not the end of the road for your sex life or marriage.
In fact, erectile dysfunction can have the complete opposite effect if you let it. It can actually strengthen your marriage and allow it to thrive. Does this sound counterintuitive? Well, it shouldn’t.
ED is exactly like any other obstacle you face in your marriage. How you react to it determines the final result. Do you give up and assume this is the end of intimacy and sex? Or do you stay the course, fight the good fight, and remember your vows in these tough times?
While it may not be easy, ED can bring you and your spouse closer together as you work on overcoming it, finding creative ways of building intimacy and experiencing sexual pleasure, and prioritizing strengthening the beautiful bond you share.
So with that in mind, here are our tips on how to cope with erectile dysfunction in marriage and keep your love story going strong.
8 Tips for Coping with Erectile Dysfunction in Marriage
- Address the issue respectfully: Many couples struggle with talking about sex, let alone problems in the bedroom. If you suspect your spouse may have ED but are unsure how to broach the topic, first let them know that there is something you want to talk about. Find an appropriate place and time to talk about it. Addressing the issue right after a failed sexual encounter may be too uncomfortable or seem critical or harsh. Ensure both of you are ready and open to talking at this time. The conversation will not be productive if either one is upset or emotionally charged. Look for somewhere neutral to discuss the issue instead of the bedroom. Perhaps go for a walk, visit a coffee shop, or even discuss it with warm drinks on the couch once the kids are safely tucked away in bed. Present the research from this article and any other information compiled to your spouse. Explain that this is a medical problem and not a performance issue. Reinforce your love and support. Highlight that there are treatment options available. If they are not yet ready to deal with it, give them the space they need and decide on a time and place to revisit the topic.
- Keep the lines of communication open: This is the game-changer for turning ED into something that strengthens your marriage instead of weakening it. Discuss how erectile dysfunction makes your spouse feel, how you feel about it, how to still meet each other’s sexual needs, and the progress of the treatment or lifestyle changes you are implementing together. For the conversations to be effective and ongoing, it needs to come from a place of working things out and being open and honest in a respectful way. If things get heated or seem unproductive, stop and pick it up again when you are both calmer and open to talking.
- Get creative about intimacy: Sex is not the only form of intimacy. Discuss other ways to enjoy pleasure in the bedroom without actual penetration. These can include foreplay activities, sexy bedroom games, using hands only or mouths only, incorporating sex toys, or even just a good old-fashioned make-out session. Initiate more non-sexual touch into your days, like kissing whenever you pass each other, cuddling on the couch together, holding hands when running errands, and making eye contact when talking. These all build intimacy and maintain the closeness shared. Finding other ways of experiencing pleasure and touch takes the pressure off your spouse, minimizing feelings of shame, insecurity, and performance anxiety. It also eases any resentment you may feel because your sexual needs can still be met in other ways. Exploring different forms of giving and receiving pleasure can also add an element of fun and excitement to your marriage, which is crucial in difficult times.
- Prioritize date night: Setting aside time to intentionally connect, try new things, have fun together, and learn more about each other is so important, especially if you are going through a challenging period in marriage. It strengthens the marriage bonds, fosters intimacy, and reminds you why you’re both so in love and crazy about each other. Date nights don’t need to be elaborate or go on for hours to reap the full benefits. It is more about prioritizing spending intentional time together amidst the business of life. In these moments, you will grow together as a couple and solidify your belief that you can get through anything together. If you’re stuck on ideas for date night, have a look through our site and pick some ideas that you both will enjoy or that allow you to forget your problems, step out of your comfort zone, and just have fun in each other’s company. The key takeaway here: when the going gets tough, go back to the basics. Dating was how you fell in love. And it will be the very thing that reminds you of that love and why you chose to spend forever together.
- Lifestyle makeover: Sometimes, erectile dysfunction can be the result of an unhealthy, stressful lifestyle. By implementing simple lifestyle changes together, you can see marked improvements in this area. Introduce more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Experiment with new healthy recipes together. Try out a new style of working out together. Join a gym, do at-home classes, go on long walks or hikes, or buy bicycles and start cycling instead of driving. If one or both of you smoke, encourage each other to quit, switch up your alcoholic drinks for fun, delicious mocktails, prioritize getting more sleep, try some YouTube Yoga sessions in your living room, or start meditating for five minutes together before you start the day. These changes can drastically reduce ED, and by keeping each other accountable, motivated, and trying new things together, you strengthen your bond and connection, too.
- Self-reflection: If your partner has ED, it is only natural that you may have mixed feelings about it. You may experience insecurity or shame and feel like your spouse may have issues with achieving an erection due to a lack of desire for you. You may feel like the problem is you or that you are not good enough. None of this is true. However, the hurt and pain these feelings bring may cause you to switch off or pull away from your spouse. You may feel resentment for having sexual needs and desires that aren’t being met. You may feel unhappy or frustrated at your dwindling sex life. These are all normal feelings; however, when it starts to affect the marriage, it can cause a downward spiral. You will need to do some self-reflection and remind yourself that ED is a medical problem. It has nothing to do with a lack of desire, lust, or the need for sex. It is treatable, and better yet, if you fight this together, you will have a stronger marriage and sex life.
- Seek Counseling: Erectile dysfunction can stir up many distressing feelings within your spouse. He may feel a sense of failure at his inability to get an erection or maintain one to have sex. This can cause low self-esteem and make him doubt his abilities as a husband, which in turn may cause further performance issues and anxiety and make the ED worse. Seeing a counselor or therapist may help him to look at the issue objectively and separate the medical problem from his self-worth or masculinity. Further, attending counseling together can help alleviate the tension and problems experienced in the marriage due to ED and provide you with coping mechanisms to deal with the stress and strain and find constructive solutions to overcome it.
- Be patient: Once your spouse starts treatment, it may still take time for the drugs or therapies to work. This may be a slow process and may require adjustments along the way to completely resolve the ED. As frustrating as this may be, you need to be patient. Offer your spouse support and encouragement to keep going. Shower them with your love and affection. Give them space to deal with their emotions while knowing that you are there to help. Go with them to the doctor or specialist, hold their hand, and let them know that it will all be okay. Erectile dysfunction makes men feel really vulnerable and insecure, and knowing they have your support makes a huge difference in their progress.
We know this can be an uncomfortable topic to broach with your spouse and an even more challenging journey to live through. Ultimately, the way you approach it will determine whether your sex life and marriage thrives or not.
If you do the work together, both of you can come out on the other side of this stronger than ever.
It’s right there in the vows “Through sickness and health …”
It may not be easy, but it will be SO worth it.