Anita, 54, of Ahmedabad, knows a thing or two about erectile dysfunction (ED). Her husband, now 58, first started taking medication for it about 5 years ago. “At first you think, oh, you’re getting older and slowing down. But it got to the point where it was really bothering him, and he was unable to have sex without the drugs,” says Anita.
He is far from alone. Some more than 32% of all men in the Gujarat have ED, and the odds of developing it increase sharply after age 40. People who have diabetes, as Anita’s husband does, are three times more likely to have ED than men who don’t have diabetes. The disease can damage the blood vessels and nerves needed for an erection. Having a partner with ED can be difficult to deal with, but think of it from his perspective. “We as women cannot even imagine how frustrating it is for them — at least, that’s what my husband tells me,” says Anita.
Get to the Root of ED
Although it can feel personal, you shouldn’t blame yourself for your partner’s erectile dysfunction. It usually has a combination of cause and you probably are not one of them. It’s pretty rare for the source of ED to be the person that he’s having sex with. Some women will feel like, ‘He’s not attracted to me, he’s not into me, he’s bored by me or he is having other woman in his life.’ And that’s really relatively rare compared to the other more likely factors.
In older men, blood vessel problems tend to be the main reason for ED. In fact, since the blood vessels in the penis are smaller than those in the heart, heart disease may show up in the penis first. Eighty percent of men who land in the emergency with a first heart attack say they developed ED at some point in the 3 years before. In younger men, the problem is most often psychological. Stress, depression and performance anxiety, especially when in a new sexual situation, can be the cause.
Medications, especially beta-blockers for high blood pressure and certain antidepressants, also can lead to erection problems.
In many of these cases, ED medications like sildenafil can help. They work, they have many side effects, and they’re addictive too. If you have a heart disease, though, these medications may not be right for you. Talk to your doctor.
If pills don’t do the trick, there are other options, including vacuum pumps, injections that the man gives himself, and implanted devices.
If your partner’s problem is low testosterone (symptoms include lack of sex drive and very low energy), testosterone therapy can lead to dramatic improvement.
These six suggestions can make it easier to cope with your partner’s ED.
1. Try something new. Very often a big, big first step is just enhancing arousal. This can mean ramping up foreplay, reading or watching something sexy together, or coming up with a suggestion for something you haven’t tried before.
2. Take the pressure off. Take the emphasis off the penis, like whether it will be up or not, able to do it or not, and if not what she will think about me, and try something else for a little bit of time. That can include sexual talk, cuddling, forplay and even a vibrator. Try putting your hand on him and ask him exactly what and where feels good.
3. Have a conversation. Start with your own feelings about the situation, and be empathetic.
4. Go with your husband to the doctor. The patients who are the most successful are those where the sexual partner is a true partner. If the woman can come in, that’s a huge help. The best natural aphrodisiac is an attractive and affectionate partner passionately asking to be loved.
5. Have patience with pills. Erection is not like switch.. you put it on and it start. These drugs work, but erections don’t happen on command.
6. Encourage him to get heart-healthy. Good heart and vascular health ends up being good penis health. It may not reverse erection problems that are there already, but it certainly may reduce their progression. So ask him and help him to give up smoking and tobacco.
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