How to Cope with Erectile Dysfunction
Dealing with anxiety and depression
Last reviewed: 09 Mar 2019
Having erectile dysfunction can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety, low sex drive, and relationship problems
Discussing erectile dysfunction with a partner or doctor can make recovering easier and less stressful
Getting help and treatment for your erectile dysfunction is important to help relieve the negative impact it can have
Therapy can help you manage your erectile dysfunction and potentially treat the causes if they are psychological
You can help a partner cope with erectile dysfunction in a number of ways, but good communication is the main factor
Being unable to deal with erectile dysfunction can cause men to lose their self-esteem, feel angry, anxious and frustrated, or even lose interest in sex altogether. This can threaten their relationships and may even result in depression.
Erectile dysfunction is treatable, but the time before and during treatment may be difficult. Here is some advice to assist you and your partner in getting your sex life back on track.
Be honest and open about your erectile dysfunction
Most people coping with erectile dysfunction, or any other event that may cause psychological strain, really want to talk to someone trustworthy and non-judgmental. Your partner and your doctor will be important in helping you to recover. Openly discussing your problems will make recovery less stressful as you will receive help and support.
Not being able to get an erection does not necessarily indicate ED. In particular, not being able to get an erection is expected under the influence of alcohol. Stressful events or periods in life can also cause temporary erectile dysfunction.
If the problem remains for a prolonged period of time, for example, if you cannot achieve an erection more than one in four times, you may be suffering from ED. In such cases, it is very important to seek treatment.
Why seek help?
Men rarely succeed in coping with erectile dysfunction on their own. It can be very difficult to self-diagnose the underlying cause.
In young men, psychological factors tend to cause ED. Anxiety/performance anxiety and traumatic sexual experiences put further strain on men by adding uneasiness regarding sex.
This creates a vicious cycle whereby more stress is added at every “failure”. The additional stress then contributes to the accumulation of anxiety, making the next "failure" more likely.
Acknowledging the problem and actively looking for a solution is crucial for young men.
In older men, ED is usually caused by physical factors. ED can indicate significant health risks, such as cardiovascular problems (i.e. heart and blood circulation conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol).
Treatment for ED and its causes is essential: it is very easy for symptoms to reinforce and worsen underlying causes. Whether suffering from low self-esteem or relationship issues, consequences of untreated ED can be very damaging to a man's life.
Helping your partner
ED can put strain on a relationship, especially if there is a lack of communication about the problem between partners. Supporting your partner is essential for his long-term recovery. The best way to do this is to encourage him to seek professional medical advice, and to provide emotional support.
You and your partner must realise that erectile dysfunction is a real condition which requires treatment. In the long run, it can lead to self-esteem and mental health issues.
Here are five ways to help support your partner through his ED:
- Understand his condition so that you know what he is going through and how to help him
- Remind him that ED is a very common and treatable condition
- Encourage him to consult a doctor and explore treatment options
- Show interest and support: this may involve accompanying him to the doctor if he wishes
- Adapt your lifestyle: this will help your partner change his lifestyle for the better too, which may help cure his ED. This involves eating healthily, exercising and avoiding smoking or taking illegal drugs
Communication between you and your partner is key. Sharing and discussing feelings, concerns and needs are a vital part of your partner's recovery. Remember that you too, may feel under stress whilst you support him. If talking to your partner in such a way doesn't help either of you, consider talking to a specialist.
How can psychological issues be treated?
If depression is the cause of your erectile dysfunction, antidepressants and other forms of therapy are available. However, it is important to note that antidepressants can sometimes cause or aggravate impotence, so ensure you discuss this with a doctor to make sure you find the most suitable treatment for you.
Psychological therapy can help you to work on any causes of discomfort or anxiety related to sex as well as to understand how your case may link to larger issues such as depression.
Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 09 Mar 2019
Zava offers a convenient and discreet service to help men improve their erectile dysfunction. There are a number of treatments you can consider. Continue to our erectile dysfunction service page to learn about the treatment options available.
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