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Over half of women worry that their partner’s erectile dysfunction is their fault, with nearly a fifth fearing their partner no longer finds them attractive, according to new research.
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that can affect all men, with more than half of men aged 40-70 affected. However the study carried out by Superdrug revealed that 80 per cent of women underestimate how common erectile dysfunction is.
Nicola Hart, head of Healthcare Services at Superdrug Online Doctor said: “The results of the Superdrug ‘It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s ED’ survey are surprising. As this survey shows, Erectile Dysfunction affects both partners and we encourage couples to seek help for the condition from a trusted healthcare provider.”
For men struggling with erectile dysfunction, pressure to perform can be stressful – so, unsurprisingly, many come up with excuses to avoid sex. When asked to identify the reasons they thought their partner used to avoid sex, 19 per cent of women said their partner has claimed to be too tired for sex, nearly 14 per cent said he used the age-old “not in the mood” excuse, and 12 per cent claimed he said he had drunk too much.
Couples avoid talking about the problem
However 29 per cent of men reported that they gave no excuse at all and their female partners provided comments such as: “It got to the point where we would avoid going to bed” and “It was an awkward thing to discuss”, an indicator that couples are just avoiding talking about the problem all together, according to Superdrug.
The research showed that 42 per cent of women feel that their partner’s erectile dysfunction is their fault, with almost a fifth (19 per cent) believing their partner no longer finds them attractive. “I thought it was something to do with me” was a comment that was seen time and time again in the report results. Over a third (35 per cent) said it had a negative effect on their relationship, but more than 40 per cent of women questioned didn’t take steps to find answers or treatments.
Of those women who did seek help, three quarters felt more positive about the situation afterwards and commented that “It made us closer to find a way to solve the problem” and “Initially it made us feel less close but only for a short time. We are much stronger now”.
The three most helpful sources were their GP (45 per cent), online research (35 per cent) and their own partner, with almost one in 10 claiming their partner was the best source of support. Nearly a quarter felt optimistic that a solution could be found, a fifth felt better knowing they weren’t the cause of the problem and 13 per cent saw an improvement in their relationship after seeking help.
Superdrug Health Ambassador Dr Pixie McKenna has provided her top expert tips to get couples tackling erectile dysfunction together
1. Don’t ignore the issue, not only won’t it go away, it is actually likely to worsen
2. Take the problem out of the bedroom when you find the time to talk about it
3. Don’t rush in and blurt things without thinking about what you are both going to say to each other and the consequences of those words
4. It’s important to medicalise the problem by referring to it as erectile dysfunction rather than using words with negative connotations such as ‘impotence’
5. Talking about it is one thing, the next step is tackling it. If you make progress in discussions, the next step is to make an action plan. If at first you don’t succeed don’t assume this means failure, it just means you haven’t yet reached a solution
6. Remember the importance of romantic actions and gestures, that peck on the cheek or arm round the shoulder reinforces your bond when you feel that you might be drifting apart
7. Nominate a date night - relationships are not just about sex, romance can be key
8. Be honest with each other. Speaking about erectile dysfunction is the time to lay your cards on the table and talk frankly about how life is going; stress and depression can be big players where erectile dysfunction is concerned, as can drugs and alcohol
9. Do some background reading on erectile dysfunction and the affected partner or the other person in the relationship may recognise that the presenting problem represents far more than not being able to perform. It could be the symptoms of an underlying medical issue so don’t dismiss it
10. Interact with a health care professional face-to-face or online to find out what treatments are available
Superdrug Online Doctor has also created a messaging app to kickstart the conversation
Men and women can contact their partner in the form of a sensitive note (text, email or Whatsapp) written by Dr Louisa Draper (Superdrug Online Doctor Medical Director) to open up a conversation.
To read the ‘It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s ED’ report in full and to use the messaging app, visit the Superdrug Online Doctor site at https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/women-and-ed/