How to Talk to Your Partner About Erectile Dysfunction

by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer

There may be other health issues

If your man is affected by erection problems, it's worth bearing in mind that in 80 percent of erectile dysfunction (ED) cases, there is some underlying physical cause. This can range from problems with blood pressure, to heart disease, to diabetes, and a few more. Even if erection problems only occur from time to time they should still be taken seriously.

Middle aged couple smiling, talking, drinking tea.

Don't wait for him to talk about it

If plan A is to wait until he raises the topic, you might wait a very long time. Open and honest discussions about sexuality are rare enough, but sexual problems are way down the must-talk-about-this list for men. When it comes to health issues, men are masters in delay tactics and avoidance.

Loving couple meeting with therapist.

Could it be me?

If you find your sex life isn't everything it could be, or has effectively stopped, it is not surprising that certain thoughts will rise to the surface. The more obvious of these are whether he still loves you, whether he still finds you attractive or whether he has found another woman. The longer you delay talking about the broader issues the more likely these questions will gnaw away at you and the worse you will feel.

Couple arguing and frustrated.

Avoid blame

If your marriage or relationship hasn't exactly been a bed of roses up to the point ED became an issue, some of the previously stored up resentment or anger could easily spill over.

Couple cooking dinner and talking.

Find a time and place

You've plucked up the courage and you want to know how the best way to get started. Don't pick a time when you are getting ready to go out or a time when he may feel you have cornered him - such as during a meal. If you think you might be interrupted by visitors or phone calls, leave it until you can be more confident that the time together is your own.

Angry man on phone.

If he won't listen...

Some men are stubborn and sensitive. Once the topic is raised, no matter how delicately, they simply close it down or walk off. In such situations, it can be difficult to know what to do, but one tip is to accept the fact that you won't talk about it now, but mention you need to talk some time soon.

Man talking to doctor and therapist.

When he won't see the doctor

You need to point out that it's only the doctor who can check the symptoms that might be causing his ED. Chances are the doctor won't ask him to drop his pants and will most likely be far more interested in talking to him, taking his blood pressure and maybe taking a blood sample for analysis.

Young woman upset.

Speak your mind

There is no script for you to work from. At the outset, you need to be aware that just because the time and place seems good for you, it may not be for him. In such circumstances you may need to be a little persistent but not pushy.

Woman explaining to man.

When he asks why

It may take seconds or days but he may well ask why you think he might have diabetes or heart problems. This means you've struck a chord. It can be lot easier for men to consider their ED as a sign of something else than an issue in its own right. In many cases this is actually quite accurate, so all you've done is steer the conversation towards this point.

Young couple in love.

Last, but not least...

This may just be the start of the process. These tips just provide a few general ideas, some of which need to be tailored to your own situation. Whatever the cause, ED needs to be treated.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s work background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of