How can you help a partner with erectile dysfunction?

Does your partner suffer from impotence, or erectile dysfunction? If so, find out how you can help them.

Erectile dysfunction (known as ED for short) occurs when a man is unable to become erect, either fully or partly and maintain this for long enough to complete a sexual act such as intercourse. Sometimes it happens only once, or it can be sporadic.

ED can be distressing to men and can have a negative impact on self-esteem and relationships however ED is usually nothing to worry about and there are several ways to effectively manage and treat ED which are cost effective and safe.  

Some treatments are more suitable for some men than others, but there are several licensed treatment options available in the UK which are usually effective and the problem often goes away. For more men’s health information, see here.

In this article, the experts at Chemist Click discuss ED, what it is, the treatment options for your partner, and how to talk to them about it. 

What causes ED?

Causes can be psychological or physical. Psychological factors such as stress and anxiety are common contributors to ED in addition to poor lifestyle choices such as drinking, smoking and lack of sleep but these can be resolved with changes in attitude and approach and talking therapies.

Men who are commonly affected by ED should seek medical advice as this could be a sign of an underlying health condition. 

Although ED is not something that happens to all men as they get older, many of the physical underlying causes of ED become more common with increasing age. Underlying health conditions such as; heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, neurological conditions and obesity can lead to ED.  

Treatments for ED

One form of ED treatment is oral medicines, the most common, are phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE 5) inhibitors which work by relaxing the blood vessels that feed into the penis, and blocking out any anti-relaxant substances found in the penis temporarily, thus maintaining an erection for longer. 

The most common treatments for ED are:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Vardenafil (Levitra)

These medications all work similarly to each other however there are subtle differences in how long they take to work and remain effective for. More than 66% of men report having improved erections after taking one of these tablets.

About the tablets your partner may take for ED

Sildenafil is the generic version of Viagra and comes in three strengths. The recommended dose is one 50mg tablet 30-60 minutes before sexual activity with the effects lasting for up to four hours.

Sildenafil is available over the counter at some UK pharmacies however it can be more cost effective to order through a registered online pharmacy. Most common side effects are headache and nausea, indigestion, blurred vision, hot flushes and dizziness.

It is important to know that many men have no side effects or only mild ones. You should not take sildenafil if you also take nitrates as medication and should seek medical advice if you are unsure. 

is the generic form of the treatment Cialis and they work in the same way. Tadalafil comes in tablet form in 2.5mg and 5mg (which can be taken daily for a continuous effect) or 10mg and 20mg which can be taken 30 minutes before sexual activity and can last for up to 36 hours.

Although it is slightly costlier than Viagra it is more useful if you have a more active sex life. It can be taken 30 minutes before sexual activity and the effects will last much longer than Viagra. Tadalafil will be less effective when alcohol is in the body and should not be mixed with any other ED medication.

Tadalafil can cause side effects, however, many people are not affected by them. Common side effects include head, back and muscle aches, hot flushes and indigestion. 

Levitra contains vardenafil, and is known to be as effective as Viagra, taking 30-60 minutes to work but known to have less side effects and last longer. The general dosage is one tablet 25-60 minutes before sexual activity but these tablets are the more expensive of the three.

As with all ED treatments, there are some side effects such as headaches, dizziness and hot flushing however most of the effects are mild. 

Sildenafil and Tadalafil tablets are the most cost effective treatments available but it is important both to note that these tablets do not increase sex drive and only work with sexual stimulation.

How can I support my partner who has ED?

Wondering how you can best support your partner with ED? Here are some suggestions.

1) Be patient

ED is frustrating for many reasons, and of course not just for your partner but also for you. However, getting upset, angry or frustrated will not help things in any way and will only push your partner further away from you and it could also cause friction or resentment within the relationship.

Try to be patient, if ED happens during sex, try to remember how this must make him feel and offer advice or perhaps opt for non-penetrative sex, there are many other ways to reach climax without having vaginal sex. 

2) Keep communication open

Communication is key with ED and the best way to get through it is to talk as much as possible and keep things as open as possible between you both. If you are open and honest with each other chances are you will be able to pin point the root of the problem more easily, and find the right treatment options.

Try to keep one night a week free where you try to have penetrative sex, and if it doesn’t work then take the time afterwards to lie with each other and talk to remain close, rather than just rolling over and being frustrated.

3) Discuss treatment options together

Discussing the various treatment options is a good way to try and decipher what will work best for the both of you. As discussed above, there are a few different medications your partner can try and researching them both together will allow you to better understand ED and your partner will feel more supported. 

4) Explore other ways to be intimate

Of course there are many other ways to seek pleasure with one another that does not involve penetrative sex or the need for an erect penis. Explore what you both like and what turns you on and try and introduce non penetrative ways to reach climax, such as foreplay or oral sex.

Investing in sex toys is also a good idea, there are many to choose from and a few of them your partner will be able to use on you which will boost his self-esteem and allow him to help you finish without the need for his penis.