How To Talk About Erection Problems - mostly for women
You have to raise the subject of his erection problem
Your partner is not likely to want to talk about the failure of his erection, much less answer questions on what treatment he intends to get. As we said elsewhere on this site, to him a problem with his erections - having erectile dysfunction - is a sign that he is less of a man, that his manhood has been taken away from him. You may have to start any discussion about the subject. And if you want to know if he's doing something about it, you are definitely going to have to ask him directly - but in a gentle and caring way. It's no use guessing!
But because this is such a sensitive subject for him, if you want to know what he's doing about his erection problem, make sure you follow a few simple rules:
Choose the right time
One way of making it more likely that your discussion bears fruit (a commitment to do something about his erection problem) is to set aside a time for the discussion in advance. You can increase your chances of success by telling him that you would like to discuss an important subject, and mention it is to do with your sex life.
Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the subject of his loss of erection during an argument or when he is stressed. Do not bring it up if you are not going to have time to complete the discussion. Do not bring it up after or during sexual activity.
The key is not to mention the subject when is feeling threatened, perhaps by a sexual failure. this will only make him more defensive - and that is likely to promote an argument. if you are wise, you'll wait until he is in a calm and more relaxed frame of mind, when his erectile dysfunction is playing less on his self-image.
Bear in mind, however, that your judgment about what is "the right moment" may in the end be more important than anything else. For example, suppose that you are in a new relationship and there are sexual problems right away - like he can't get an erection. It would hardly be appropriate not to mention this, as it will have a major bearing on the intimacy and success of your relationship - at least, if sex is to play a normal part in that relationship.
And there are certain skills you need to employ as well:
many men have told me that their partner has said something to do them like
"Don't worry, it doesn't matter." Well, not having a proper erection matters a huge
amount, and to hear his partner say this may well give a man not only a sense of
loss and anger at his erectile problems, but an additional sense that his
partner has not heard him and is not supporting him. Of course erection problems matter - and no attempt to make him feel better by telling him that
it doesn't - even if that is said from a place of love and care - is likely to
open the lines of communication between you.
The style of communication you use when you talk about erection problems is crucial to the success of your discussion. A direct, straightforward style of communication is most likely to be constructive in resolving problems. It is not helpful to keep quiet, to be stoical, to avoid the subject through fear that you will be putting pressure on your partner, or to get too emotional about the subject ("You don't love me anymore!" "Are you having an affair?").
It is possible that his erectile dysfunction may be making a man extremely defensive, so he may not respond to your feelings with as much care and compassion as he normally would. In which case, rather than feeling hurt, angry or defensive, you need to keep your power and state your case clearly and firmly. You need to confront the problem of his erectile dysfunction directly, not adding a weak get out such as "....but it doesn't really matter if you don't want to talk about it." This is a matter for both of you, and you need to be assertive to make sure that you get what you want, which is your partner fully restored to sexual health and full erection capacity.
This is of course all about letting your partner know that you care about him, and that you are willing to support him in his efforts to recover from his erectile problem. The skill of active listening is essential here: this is about not just sitting there passively while your partner tells you what is going on for him, but about acknowledging by your responses and interjections that you are genuinely hearing what he is saying. So tell him you love him, you want to hear his point of view, you want to support him, and you expect him to be supportive of you and work with you on restoring his normal sexual drive and ability.
Here are some clues that might help you identify what you are feeling: rejected, angry (Is this something to do with me?), depressed (I can't cope with this), sexually frustrated (when am I ever going to have intercourse with him again?), anxious (will he ever be erect again?), suspicious (is he having an affair?), or embarrassed (how can we ever talk about something so personal and so sensitive?)
Clearly it's important that you reassure him that you are not blaming him, that you know it's not his fault, and that you trust him to tell you if there is something you should know. (It is faintly possible that he is not getting erect with you because he doesn't fancy you anymore. If he admits this, then you need to arrange couples' counseling as soon as possible.)
If you need to know what to ask him about his erectile dysfunction, here are some suggestions:
What do you feel about this?
How important is this to you?
And if you're starting out in a relationship:
Is this a new problem?
Can I help you do something about it?
Have you always had the problem?
You know loads of guys have this problem, and it's not that hard to do something about it?
Would you like to work on the problem with me?
Is there anything I can do to help?
Simply allowing a man to vent his feelings without
responding to them and turning them into an argument is a major step forwards.
Then, you can turn your attention towards working out the source of his emotions
- is he scared that he'll never be able to have sex again? Does he just not care
about it (or you?) His resistance to working on the problem may come from his
sense that men should be self-reliant and solve all their own problems, but the
truth is that if you can persuade him you are indeed his ally in the matter of
his erectile dysfunction, he'll feel considerable relief.
Things not to say with a man who has an erection problems
Do not compare him with your previous lovers. This will always make things worse.
Do not encourage him during sex, or comment on his
performance as you make love. This will just make him more anxious.
There's often a period of time required for a man to
accept his erectile difficulties before he can bring himself to the realization
that he needs to work on them. This is a typical grief reaction - in this case
to the loss of his maleness and manhood and all that might signify for him -
youth, success, energy, desire, lust, his male sexuality even. Given time, most
men adapt and begin to work on getting their erection back, but you may wish to
consider if you are actually taking a strong enough line in the matter.