Talking to your partner about ED, couple talking, ED

Erectile Dysfunction Can Be Hard To Bring Up…

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a health issue that many people feel too embarrassed about to discuss. It’s not only deeply personal, but experiencing ED can make you feel that you’ve somehow failed sexually  – that you can’t perform ‘like a man’. It can be a real knock to your sexual performance and confidence, causing self-esteem issues and anxiety in the bedroom.

In fact your mindset can often influence your ED, causing a kind of performance anxiety feedback loop. You’ll be getting intimate with your partner, and all you can think about is getting it up. You feel pressured by the expectations in your head, stressing you out and making it even more difficult to feel relaxed and confident in your body, exacerbating your ED.

While ED is about your body, it can go beyond a personal problem and become a relationship issue. In fact your partner may begin to feel just as confused or insecure about ED. They may also feel like they may have failed sexually, that they aren’t attractive enough or that they aren’t giving you pleasure. Often this isn’t the case, but without communication it can be easy to make assumptions.

So, how can someone with ED talk about their condition with their partner – or vice versa? It’s all about being sensitive, supportive and knowledgeable, and above all open and understanding. It’s about coming together to realise that while ED is an obstacle, it’s not some unconquerable end to your sex lives or even the relationship. It can be treated and even go away entirely.

A male gay couple holding hands, talking about erectile dysfunction with your partner, e-Surgery

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

One of the first questions anyone has regarding ED is ‘why?’ 

The first thing to realise is that most men sometimes struggle to maintain an erection. Yes, really – you’re not alone! Not being able to keep it up on occasion isn’t necessarily a dysfunction, it’s perfectly normal. The reasons why can range from fatigue to stress or having too much to drink. But if you’re struggling to get hard or maintain an erection frequently, or you are finding it has become an obstacle to your sex life, then it is considered Erectile Dysfunction.

One of the main reasons is simply age. ED is common among men over 40. Once you’ve reached this age, the likelihood of experiencing some form of ED increases by around 10% with each passing decade [1].
That doesn’t mean ED is rare among younger people, though. Various studies have tried to identify how many people suffer from ED under 40, with the data indicating it could be an increasingly widespread issue. Figures show that some 10 – 30% of men under 40 have experienced some form of ED in their life [2].

Physical Causes Of ED

• Narrowing of blood vessels, high cholesterol or hypertension

• Hormonal problems such as low testosterone

• Diabetes

• Obesity

• Medication side effects

Psychological Causes Of ED


• Anxiety

• Depression

• Low self-esteem and body image issues

The Right Moment

The first step is the hardest: broaching the topic of ED with your partner. It may be something you’ve never talked about before. Perhaps it’s been an obstacle in your relationship for a while, but you just haven’t sat down and discussed it openly. It’s not always an easy talk to have, so picking the right moment is crucial.

It’s important that both you and your partner are clued up on ED as a medical issue, so you’re not going in blind or relying on false assumptions. Communicating about ED can be really helpful when it comes to organising a plan of treatment, but only if you’re both in the know about the condition.

It’s probably best not to have the big discussion in the throes of passion, or when feelings are running high due to ED interfering with sex. In fact, it might be best if the talk doesn’t happen in the bedroom at all, and you may want to avoid discussing it just after an incident. Make sure that both people are involved in a comfortable, relaxing environment with no expectations or pressure. Talking about ED with your partner should be constructive, not cause an argument or ruin a mood.

It can be hard to find the right words when it comes to ED, whether you’re the person suffering from the issue or a partner trying to understand. It can feel like an embarrassing admission, or at worst an accusation. It may make it easier to start off the conversation in a more open way, starting with your general sex life and then focusing on ED when it feels appropriate. But if you want to be direct, try not to talk negatively about yourself or make it sound like you’re blaming someone. Just be honest, with the outlook that it’s a common issue that can be overcome together. Always remember you’re trying to help each other.

Identifying The Issue

Even before having a talk about the issue, most couples realise that ED has affected the relationship in some way. But they aren’t sure how to fix it. The pressure to solve the problem on your own can feel really isolating and stressful, so make sure you’re both supporting each other through this.

Sometimes, the reasons for ED can seem obvious. You may be going through burnout from work, for example, which carries into the bedroom. Or perhaps you’ve started a new course of medication and one of the side effects is ED or a lowered libido. In these cases, you’ve identified a clear reason, and so the steps to treatment are easier to follow. 

However, many men suffering from ED don’t know why it’s happening. Talking with your partner can help you gain some clarity. Try and think about recent changes in your life, whether you’ve noticed any other odd symptoms or whether you’re feeling stressed or depressed. They may have noticed something you haven’t. It’s often a combination of factors. 

Whether you think you’ve found the cause of your ED or you’re still feeling clueless, the next step is to get some professional medical advice.

Young couple under covers cuddling in bed, talking to your partner about erectile dysfunction, e-Surgery

Getting Help

Talking to a medical professional about ED can seem like a daunting prospect. You’ve just summoned up the confidence to have a deep conversation about an embarrassing and personal subject with your partner. Now you have to do it with a complete stranger! However, for the doctor, pharmacist, prescriber or therapist – it’s just another day in the office. Trust us, seeking treatment for ED is not uncommon. 

As ED is one of the most prevalent health issues for men, medical professionals are quite used to talking about it and offering advice. So don’t feel like it’s going to be awkward for them. You’re certainly not the first person they’ve treated for ED. 

Suggesting a health check up is always a good suggestion to bring up when talking about ED with a partner. It could be that you or your partner have an underlying physical health issue such as hypertension, high cholesterol or low testosterone, conditions which often aren’t immediately obvious. A physical check up could help identify the cause, with the prescribed treatments able to reduce or eliminate symptoms such as ED.

All In The Mind?

Erectile dysfunction isn’t always caused by an underlying physical issue. Sometimes it’s more about our mental wellbeing, our self confidence and our feelings around sex. You may find that you’re struggling to stay hard with your partner even though you’re deeply attracted to them. You both take a break from the sex and go to bed. Then you wake up with morning wood! Cases like these can be really frustrating for the ED sufferer. You know that your equipment works, but there is some kind of mental blockage preventing you from using it. It’s not always clear why until you really examine your inner feelings with your partner.

It’s a phenomenon that tends to affect young men with ED, with common characteristics of an under 40s sufferer including a psychiatric diagnosis such as anxiety or depression [3]. So it’s really important to discuss your mental health with your partner, or support your partner if they’re experiencing ED and to check in on their well being. If your partner’s ED has been disrupting your relationship, you must be compassionate and realise that sexual issues can be a symptom of a wider crisis, such as depression, burning out from stress or an anxiety disorder. You should always be communicative about your feelings in a relationship, and don’t suffer in silence. 

You may want to try attending sex therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. By working through your emotional issues and mental health with a professional, the thought patterns and hidden feelings leading to ED can be understood and avoided.

Working Together

Talking is important, but sometimes action does more. Doing activities together as a couple can really help out when it comes to improving health, physical and mental. Often ED can be caused by an inactive lifestyle compounded by smoking and drinking – so why not make that lifestyle change together?

Getting active is a great way to not only improve your health and have fun, but also to emotionally bond and spend some time away from the issue of sex. Exercise can really help with ED, as it improves your blood flow, helps you lose weight and boosts your mental health – all factors that contribute to a healthy erection [4]! Take up a sport together, try cooking new healthy meals as a duo, and encourage good habits and set combined goals such as quitting smoking. It’s so much easier when you’re working as a team to get over an obstacle like ED, rather than waiting for the other person to fix it themselves without support.

Can Medication Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

Medicine has made leaps and bounds when it comes to treating ED, and nowadays there are a range of safe and effective medications used by all kinds of men all over the world. As ED is a common health issue, these medications are prescribed every day and over decades of research have been found to be very reliable in treating ED, with very few side effects when taken as prescribed by a medical professional.

Big names include the brand Viagra, Tadalafil (Cialis) and Spedra, and their chemically identical generic counterparts Sildenafil and Tadalafil. For a quick breakdown of the best of the rest, check out the Top 5 ED Pills In The UK. All of these ED medications are easy to order online from pharmacies such as e-Surgery, with effective treatments such as Sildenafil delivered quickly and discreetly to your front door from as little as £7.50.

Avoiding Fake Erectile Dysfunction Pills

Make sure to always order ED medications from registered and reputable online pharmacies such as e-Surgery. There are plenty of dodgy fake pills about such as Kamagra and Super P Force which either don’t work or could cause nasty effects such as Priapism. Also be wary of Natural ED Treatments with little science behind them. For a more comprehensive guide on the names to avoid, check out our List Of Fake ED Pills Sold In The UK.


  1. Aging Related Erectile Dysfunction—Potential Mechanism to Halt or Delay its Onset | PubMed
  2. Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men-A Review of the Prevalence and Risk Factors | PubMed
  3. A Syndrome of Erectile Dysfunction in Young Men? | PubMed
  4. Physical Activity as an Adjunct Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction | PubMed

Further Reading

  1. Erectile Dysfunction (impotence) | NHS
  2. About Depression | Mind
  3. Sildenafil | National Institute For Health And Care Excellence
  4. Tadalafil For Erectile Dysfunction | PatientInfo