Advice for Women on How to Cope with their Partner’s Erectile Dysfunction.
The TV commercials make it all seem so simple: He can’t get an erection so he pops a pill.
The next thing you know, his partner is cooing about how her guy is back to his old wild and romantic self.
What the commercials don’t show you: The painful distress a woman can experience when her man suffers from erectile dysfunction.
“Women internalize things — they tend to blame themselves first. They think it’s because they’ve done something wrong, or that they’re no longer attractive to their partner. In fact, the first thing a woman thinks when a man can’t get an erection is that it’s her fault. And nothing could be further from the truth,” says Andrew McCullough, MD, director of sexual health at NYU Medical Center.
ED, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. Virtually all men experience some erection failures at certain points in their lives
Unfortunately, experts say a lack of education about the causes of ED are frequently behind a woman’s self-blame, as well as her increasing anxiety, and sometimes, even feelings of hurt and anger when the problem occurs.
“Most women usually start with a line of questioning that often has some anxiety or hurt to it. She may suspect her partner is having an affair, or that he just doesn’t find her desirable anymore. So she begins to hint around at these possibilities,” says Sallie Foley, MSW, a professor at the University of Michigan.
Often, says Foley, a man suffering with ED will interpret her questions as an attack on him. Result? He pulls back.
“She then experiences this pulling back as a confirmation that she has done something wrong, and so she retreats even further,” says Foley. As she does, increasing levels of anxiety or depression can set in, along with suspicions about what’s going on with him, as well as a continued belief that there is something wrong with her.
The end result: The couple can stop communicating altogether — not only in the bedroom, but in all aspects of their relationship. And that, say experts, can only make problems worse for both partners.