Erectile Dysfunction and Sexuality
The relationship between erectile dysfunction and sexuality is an extremely sensitive one for many men and their partners. Men who had satisfactory sexual relations prior to the development of erectile dysfunction may now be faced with uncertainty about if and when their erectile function will return. They may feel like “less than a man” during sexual relations with their partner. Achieving an erection is emotionally fulfilling for most men and a critical factor in their sexual relationships. When that ability disappears, sadly some men feel their sex lives are over. However, sexual intimacy can be alive and well in the presence of erectile dysfunction for men and their partners if they seek professional help.
Physicians who are experienced in sexual medicine and certified sex therapists can guide men and their partners through the sexual challenges associated with erectile dysfunction and sexuality. For many men, it may be the first time they have had an intimate relationship with a partner without the ability to achieve an erection. This is not to say that men with erectile dysfunction cannot achieve an erection again. They usually can, using any one or more of the treatment options available. However, until that time comes, or in cases where the ability to have an erection does not return, sexual intimacy can be achieved when both partners are willing to work through this challenging time.
The longer a man with erectile dysfunction and his partner avoid physical intimacy, the harder it will be to re-establish it. Therefore it is important for couples to address their questions and concerns about erectile dysfunction and sexuality soon after prostatectomy, radiation, or whatever circumstance has resulted in erectile dysfunction. Seeking the help of a sex therapist while using pills, a vacuum pump, penile injections, penile rehabilitation, or other ways to tackle erectile dysfunction can help both the man and his partner learn how to enjoy physical intimacy without sexual intercourse and also how to work through their anxieties and questions about the changes in their sexual relationship.