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What to do When Your Man is Impotent

what to do if your man is impotent

Should your man be using a penis extender to correct ED? An erection problem, sometimes referred to as impotence but known medically as erectile dysfunction (ED), affects over 2 million men in the UK. That’s around 1 in 10 men.

This section of the site explains why erectile dysfunction (ED) happens and why it’s important for your partner to see a doctor. We also examine some of the emotional issues around the condition and suggest ways to cope with your man’s impotence.

Understand What is Causing His Impotence

In approximately 80% of men with ED, there is an underlying physical cause – such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. This is why it is important for your partner to get checked out by a doctor if he hasn’t done so already and for him to have regular medical check-ups.


Early warning

Men affected by erection problems, even if they only have occasional issues, should take their problem seriously, particularly if the symptoms persist for more than a few weeks.

ED may be the first symptom of an important medical problem. It should not be ignored and all affected men should consult their GP for advice. The encouragement and support of their partner is often tremendously helpful to them in overcoming their understandable embarrassment in first seeking advice. If your partner seems to have a problem, talk about it.

Health-related ED

Did you know that in approximately 80% of men with ED, there is an underlying physical illness causing this problem?

ED may be a symptom of a number of different underlying illnesses which can include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Surgery (e.g. pelvic)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Hormonal problems
  • Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis

While in the majority of cases, ED has an underlying physical cause, in some men this problem may be psychological. However, in many men, there will usually be a combination of both physical and psychological factors. Psychological causes may include your man worrying that his penis is not big enough. Advise him to use a penis extender. Other possible causes of erection problems can include some medications (e.g. certain antidepressants) or too much alcohol.

It is possible that non-medical matters may affect a man’s erection. These can include:

  • Life pressures – for example work, financial or family worries
  • Performance anxiety – whereby a man becomes anxious before sexual intercourse
  • Change in a partner – starting a new relationship, particularly after the loss of a partner, may be problematic for some men.

Why Won’t He Talk About It?

Why is it so difficult for men to talk about a sexual problem? This is particularly the case when it concerns impotence or ejaculation. Most men feel embarrassed and distressed when unable to fulfill their partner’s needs and see it as a reflection of their masculinity.

Some men believe that if they talk about the problem it will get worse, and they hope that next time everything will be fine. Some men may even avoid intimate contact with their partner.

Embarrassment and fear

“90% of men with ED do not receive treatment”

On average, men still wait up to two years before visiting their doctor about a sexual problem. Although the reason for this is mainly embarrassment, there is often also a fear that the doctor might find something seriously wrong with their general health.

Women probably find it easier because we are often asked by our doctors about contraception and our menstrual cycle. We also undergo vaginal examinations – for smears, for example – which give us the opportunity to talk about sexual problems.

That said, I don’t think some of us find it very easy to talk about such personal matters.

Loss of masculinity

“Men just don’t feel masculine if they are unable to maintain an erection”

Men are very different creatures to us women. They don’t go down to the pub and tell their friends that they couldn’t get an erection last night or that they ejaculated prematurely. A male sexual problem is rarely shared with other men. Men just don’t feel masculine if they are unable to maintain an erection.

In contrast, women tend to talk more openly to their friends about difficulties without feeling they are losing their femininity.

Fear of rejection

“We may be frightened that our partner no longer finds us attractive”

So how do we help men to talk about this sensitive and distressing event? I think women sometimes avoid talking about a sexual problem because we don’t want to hear that the reason they have lost the erection may be due to us. We may be frightened that our partner no longer finds us attractive. We may also want to avoid any further embarrassment for our partner by bringing the subject up. However, avoiding talking about it may only lead to further problems in the long run.

Many of us take lovemaking far too seriously. Unless we talk we will never find a way of resolving the problem. I think the best way is to set aside a time when you will not be disturbed, think about what you are going to say and use the right language. After all, this is our approach in so many other aspects of our life so why should this be any different, particularly when it is about something so important.

Conversation techniques

It’s important to use language you’re both comfortable with. Avoid using technical terms like ‘impotence’ or ‘erectile dysfunction’ if you don’t normally speak to each other like this. Use whatever terms feel most natural to you in your relationship.

Also, try to use the word ‘I’ or ‘we’ rather than ‘you’. And start with a positive statement: this helps people to listen as everyone loves praise and knowing that they did something right.

For instance, you might say, ‘You remember a few days ago when we were making love and we had that wonderful foreplay where your touch was perfect? Then I noticed that you lost your erection for some reason. Being a woman I have no idea what that felt like, but I would like us as a couple to find a way of talking about this.’

It’s a good idea to sit close to one another. Don’t worry too much about maintaining eye contact but holding hands or making physical contact in a way which feels natural to you may help.

Discussing feelings

It is also important to explain your feelings about what has happened and to ask for his help in coping with the emotions you may be experiencing. Try explaining that you are worried it may be connected to your relationship and how he feels about you, or that you are concerned about his health.

Start by saying something like ‘I know this probably sounds silly but…’ continuing with your own concerns about the erection loss. Encourage him to do the same with you, as he is just as likely to be concerned as you are. In this way, you can act as a team to solve the problem, rather than both of you feeling worried but unable to tackle the issue because you fear raising the topic at all.

Most of all, don’t panic or allocate blame. No man will talk openly if he feels that he is being blamed for the sexual problem.

Professional help

I would recommend that you suggest your partner sees his GP, especially since erection problems can often be an indicator of underlying illness like heart disease or diabetes. For some couples, a therapist trained in sexual problems may be helpful.


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