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Posted by James Ryan

How to help your partner with erectile dysfunction

a male and a female holding hands
4 minute read

Simple ways you can get through ED together. 

What causes erectile dysfunction? 


Erectile dysfunction is usually a symptom of an overworked, stressed, unhealthy lifestyle.  Occasionally, erectile dysfunction is caused by a physical issue. If your partner has undergone prostate or bladder surgery, has heart problems or suffers from diabetes, his penis might not be able to naturally sustain an erection. 


It is also a side effect of getting older. A study by the Irish Heart Foundation found 57% of men over 70 will suffer from erectile dysfunction, compared to 20% of men in their 50s.  

Physical signs your partner might have erectile dysfunction 


ED looks different in every man, but there are some common signs your partner might be suffering from it: 


  • Needing more foreplay before sex – spending time stimulating himself manually, watching pornography before or during sex, or using toys to become aroused.
  • Being able to achieve an erection but losing it quickly during sex. 
  • Ejaculating within the first 2 minutes of penetration. 
  • Being able to get hard during masturbation, but not through sex. 

Emotional signs your partner might have erectile dysfunction


ED can also have a psychological impact on men. Here are some signs it’s taking a toll on his mental health: 


  • Creating excuses not to have sex; saying he’s too tired, stressed, or busy.
  • Spending more time stimulating you in other ways, and not wanting to be stimulated himself.
  • Pulling away from you emotionally, seeming distant or preoccupied.
  • Reminding you of the great sex you’ve had in the past. “Remember that time we broke the bed in the hotel room?”

How do I support my partner through erectile dysfunction? 


Never underestimate the effect that erectile dysfunction will be having on your partner’s confidence. Men – even if they outwardly seem calm, well-adjusted, and only really interested in calculators – secretly see themselves as The Great Sexual Provider, Giver of Orgasms. Not being able to satisfy you in bed will be killing his self-esteem. Here are my tips for helping him cope. 


Don’t minimise the problem


The worst thing you can do is to say something like, “Oh, don’t worry – I went off sex years ago!” Even if it’s true, and you’d happily go to bed with nothing steamier than a mug of herbal tea, your partner still needs to feel desired. He also wants to know that his feelings are valid. Don’t rush to cheer him up or minimise the problem. Share in his feelings. 


Boost your intimacy 


Play up all the other sensual ways you can connect. Men experience intimacy and emotional connection through physical touch, but often forget there are other ways to be sensual, outside the wham-bam. Encourage more kisses, cuddles, hand-holding and non-penetrative sex. He might feel cuddling is pointless if it can’t lead to sex. Show him how good it can feel, even if it doesn’t end in an orgasm. 


Try Sensate Focus 


Sensate Focus was created by sex therapists Masters and Johnson in the 1960s (the steamiest decade) and it’s an easy way to remind yourselves how good it feels to be touched with no expectation of sex. 


There are 5 steps, which you do over different days:


Step one: Non-genital touching 

Take turns to touch each other’s bodies, concentrating on “non sexual” areas. Don’t try to induce an orgasm; just remember what it’s like to be touch and be touched. 


Step two: Genital touching 

Take your partner’s hand and guide it over your breasts and genitals, showing them how you like to be touched. Again, no orgasms – just sensations. 


Step three: Add lotion

Increase the sensation by repeating step two, but using oil, lotion or lube. 


Step four: Mutual Touching 

Sensually explore each other’s body with your hands, mouth and tongue. STILL don’t go for the BigO. Just carry on your exploration of different feelings. 


Step five: Sensual Intercourse

Note, sensual, not sexual. Go beyond your basic in-out thrustiness. Instead, find different ways to guide each other towards orgasm. If your partner can’t ejaculate, let him focus on you. (You’re not being selfish; remember, he loves giving you pleasure.)


What erectile dysfunction treatments are available?


There are many different treatments for erectile dysfunction


. Sometimes, simply adopting a healthier lifestyle can work wonders.


If your partner’s ED is caused by stress or indulging in booze or cigarettes, simple changes like a healthier diet, doing more exercise, or just getting away from it all on holiday can put a spring back in their shorts. 


In some cases where a physical issue has caused erectile dysfunction, medical help is needed in the form of surgery or, more usually, medication.


There are two types of medication. The most commonly prescribed meds are what’s known as Phoshodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) Inhibitors. (That’s the medical term for the little blue pill.) The other type are Vasodilators. Both work by encouraging more blood to flow to the penis.  


The pills are safe and effective in around 50-85% of men. Happily, the side-effects are usually minimal – some men suffer headaches, blocked noses or indigestion. 


Medication is available on prescription and can be bought online.


Order erectile dysfunction medication online


Encourage your partner to see a GP 


The most helpful thing you can do if your partner is suffering from erectile dysfunction is to encourage them to see a doctor. In some men – especially over the age of 40 – erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of a serious health issue like heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes.


If he's reluctant to talk to his normal GP, your partner can have a safe, discreet online consultation with a GP here.



This blog was written by Kate Taylor, a Sex Expert, Sex and Dating Features Writer, columnist and author of five books, for