Many men who suffer from ED can be so overwhelmed by the condition that they don’t realize ED can also have a drastic impact on their partners and their relationships.

For instance, men with ED may find that they become distanced emotionally from their partners. As they themselves struggle with frustration, fear, anger, resignation and avoidance, their partner may be experiencing many emotions that can be equally devastating. They may be feeling rejected, unattractive, even unloved.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the partner may think ED is the result of external factors like work stress or fatigue. They may not realize or initially believe that it’s likely a medical condition that’s causing the symptoms. As a result, the entire relationship may be placed under stress.

While your partner may want to help, it is common for partners to be reluctant to discuss the symptoms of ED. They may be staying silent intentionally, not wanting to place any extra pressure on you. They may be waiting for you to initiate the discussion.

In order to maintain intimacy and a healthy relationship, it is important to communicate with your partner. Talking with them about the causes of ED and possible treatments is vital, and helps reduce the anxiety and stress that ED can cause for both of you.

Robert Leslie, married to his wife, Judy, for 36 years; in a wheelchair for the last 23 years: “When I got hurt, we lost a lot of stuff. You know, things that I couldn’t do anymore. Going for a walk, holding hands – a walk on the beach. Those things were all gone. Plus your physical, your sexual life is gone. Well, it’s not gone, but it’s new. It’s a new life that you have to learn to live with. I used to come up behind Judy and put my arm around her and kiss her on the neck – little things that people take for granted. I couldn’t do them anymore.”

John Alafberg, 45, living with diabetes for 31 years, and his wife Sandy: “I’m a steelworker and I work in a very macho environment. To walk within those boundaries and knowing in the back of my mind that I was somewhat less of a man, that bothered me. I felt inadequate with my wife. But it was about a year and a half before I came forward to my doctor. I guess I was in a form of denial. I would say, ‘no, everything’s fine.’”

Sandy says: “I think I recognized that there was a problem but it was something I didn’t talk about with John. When we did have sexual relations, he would always tell me it was his diabetes and always apologize. There was something there but I never pushed it. I just waited for him to tell me what was going on.”