If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, there may come a time when your husband or partner experiences erectile dysfunction (ED). While ED is common, many men feel uncomfortable talking about it, and might avoid bringing the subject up at all. If you’re concerned about your husband and his health, you may have to initiate a conversation about ED. Here are some tips on starting and navigating a discussion about ED.
Tip #1 Remember It’s No One’s Fault
ED is a tricky subject. For some men, their sexual performance is a matter of pride and might feel attacked if you question it in any way, even if you’re coming from a heartfelt place. That’s why both you and your husband must recognize that ED doesn’t happen because a man is no longer sexually attracted to his partner or his libido is gone. It’s a completely natural occurrence that is very common and can be explained.
In fact, Healthline reports that about half of all men have some degree of ED, and the likelihood of it happening increases as men age. It can be caused by a long list of reasons, such as medication, diet, stress, and more. The most important thing to remember when first bringing up the subject is that it’s no one’s fault.
Tip #2 Do Your Research
Researching ED, its symptoms, and its causes can help encourage a more open and understanding conversation. As noted, most ED symptoms are caused by an underlying health condition, like abnormal blood pressure or cardiac disease. Uncovering this information can help direct the conversation and potentially shine a light on a larger health issue.
Similarly, this type of research shows that ED is treatable through lifestyle changes, support, and the right medication. By conducting this research, you can relieve any stress either of you may feel about the situation. You can also jot down any relevant information you or your husband may want to refer to later – either in another discussion or at a doctor’s appointment.
Tip #3 Pick a Time and Place
Talking about ED is sensitive. Men can feel embarrassed or even ashamed, though they shouldn’t. Don’t spring this conversation before you’re about to leave the house to run an errand, or especially during intimacy. Try and carve out time in a relaxed space when you know you’ll be uninterrupted so neither of you feels cornered or trapped.
Tip #4 Approach with Caution
When you begin the conversation, be kind and understanding. Try bringing up the topic using sensitive language, such as, “I’ve noticed you haven’t felt well lately.” It’s best not to attempt to add any humor to relieve the awkwardness. It will most likely do more harm than good and could uproot the conversation or steer it in a different direction.
If it helps, you can write out a few notes or bring your research materials on ED. Referring to this can help fill any pauses that may occur and keep the conversation moving.
Tip #5 Be Prepared to Listen
You’ll likely have some questions, but remember that this condition affects his body, so let him speak and ask questions if he’s ready. Don’t be upset if he isn’t entirely prepared to talk either, and let him know you’re there when the time is right for him.
While bringing some notes or research material can help, don’t script out your conversation. By not having a preconceived idea of the conversation, you’ll be able to listen better and have a more natural discussion. That’s because having scripted lines can actually make you seem less sincere. If he gets defensive and wants to stop talking, having a script could actually prevent you from considering his feelings. If the conversation does start to end, reassure him again you’re only trying to help and that you’ll follow-up when he’s comfortable.
Tip #6 Urge Him to Consult a Doctor
Even if you’ve had a great conversation with each other and feel you’ve come to an understanding of the situation, the only way to get reliable treatment is to see a doctor. They will describe possible medication options that will work best for your husband’s specific situation and whether or not a separate, more serious condition is causing ED.
Visiting a doctor can also help you first bridge the topic if your other tactics haven’t worked. A licensed urologist can guide the conversation for you and reinforce the idea that ED is common, treatable, and nothing to be ashamed about. Telemedicine, or online doctor appointments, can make this even easier because he’ll be able to discuss his situation in the comfort of your home.
When you’re ready to talk to your husband or partner about ED, remember these tips. They can help set the right emotional tone backed by research, so when you finally approach him, the conversation shouldn’t be that hard. Then, you both can have an honest discussion and work together to find the appropriate treatment.