Is erectile dysfunction a taboo topic in relationships?

Is erectile dysfunction a taboo topic in relationships?

The inability to develop and maintain an erection increases with age, but it’s never an easy topic to discuss with a partner.

Exact statistics on the number of men who experience erectile problems are difficult to obtain, as it is thought that less than half of men with ED discuss it with their doctors.  ED prevalence is age-related and the Massachusetts Male Aging Study reported that 40% of men aged 40 were affected and 70% of men aged 70.

For many years, it was thought that ED was largely psychological in origin, but it is now understood that physical causes of ED are much more likely, as it is a complex process involving many different physical steps and systems.

It can also have many causes, including problems with the blood vessels, neurological causes, injuries, diabetes, kidney disease and side effects of certain medications, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medication among others.

The effect of ED on a man’s self-esteem can be significant and can affect their confidence and masculinity, says Dr Mark L. Held. a clinical psychologist from Denver.

Whereas relationship problems can definitely contribute to ED, ED can also contribute to relationship problems. A partner can easily interpret ED as a loss of interest, making it a difficult topic to discuss. The inability to communicate about this sexual issue can aggravate the anxiety around ED, according to Sexual Health Australia.

For many men, ED is an embarrassing problem to discuss, as they could feel it has an impact on their masculinity. But the problem can leave their partners feeling confused, sexually frustrated because of a lack of penetrative sexual intercourse, rejected and insecure. ED can have a big emotional effect on any relationship.

It is essential for partners to deal with this together, or even call in the help of a therapist.  Partners need to understand diagnosis and treatment options, and need to become part of the process.

Another reason it should not be ignored is that it is often one of the first signs of a health problem, such as high blood pressure, which might have no other discernible symptoms.


In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, MediHub cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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