My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction, What Should I Do?

Frantically searching, “my boyfriend has erectile dysfunction; what should I do?”? You’re not alone — plenty of people have had this issue and looked for ways to work around it. 

Having sexual dysfunction in your relationship can significantly impact your intimacy, not just your and your partner’s pleasure potential. But don’t worry; your lovemaking days aren’t over just yet. 

Let’s talk openly about erectile dysfunction — what it is and how you can maintain an active love life despite that hurdle. 

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called impotence or the inability to “get it up,” is very common — impacting up to 30 million people yearly. But that doesn’t mean it’s expected or just something you have to deal with. 

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to mean that your penis cannot get hard. Some people with ED can get a partial erection, but not one that is hard enough or lasts long enough for sex to be satisfying for either party. It can also be hit or miss, where you have no problem getting an erection one time and struggle the next. 

Unfortunately, we tend to treat ED like a hush-hush issue no one should admit to or discuss openly. Erections are directly tied to being “a man,” so anything stopping you from getting one can unfairly impact how masculine you feel. 

That stereotype causes men with ED to be embarrassed to talk about it or seek help, leading to suffering in silence. We’d love to get rid of the stigma around ED so that people get the treatment they need to fix an often easily fixable issue and get back to getting it on.

Is Erectile Dysfunction a Long-Term Issue?

Dealing with erectile dysfunction can feel hopeless sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it will last forever! Many people deal with ED on a short-term basis, especially when they seek help and treatment. Most ED is only a long-term issue if it goes untreated.

What Type of People Deal With Erectile Dysfunction?

My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction; What Should I Do?

ED is often chalked up to being an older person's problem, but it’s not a normal part of the aging process. While aging can be a risk factor for the condition, it’s more related to the health issues that come with aging — especially those that impact the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems.

Other risk factors include:

  • Certain diseases or health conditions (and related medications), like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and prostate cancer

  • Certain mental health issues (and related medications, especially anti-depressants and sedatives)

  • Health-related factors, like being overweight or smoking

Usually, ED is due to a combination of factors! The physical can impact the emotional, leading to anxiety about sex and increasing the odds of struggling to achieve an erection. Successfully treating and managing ED requires a well-rounded, holistic solution!

How To Help Your Partner Deal With ED

So, my boyfriend has erectile dysfunction; what should I do? There are plenty of ways to help support your partner while dealing with ED. However, before you run out and buy a bunch of books or talk to a medical professional, make sure that your partner is on board. 

Remember, ED can be a potentially embarrassing situation that makes people very self-conscious. It’s essential to approach your partner with grace and let them take the lead on what they are and aren’t comfortable with. 

Be Open

Once you decide to have the conversation, make sure you listen more than talk. Not only does this help you build trust and prove that you’re there to support them (and not just to meet your own needs), but you also learn about what your partner actually needs. 

It’s okay to acknowledge that it’s an awkward, potentially embarrassing situation! Bringing up the elephant in the room can help normalize the conversation instead of dancing around it. 

Remember, while this is “his” issue, it’s also something you can work through as a couple. Never underestimate the power of a good support system!

My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction; What Should I Do?

Remind Him He’s Not the Only One Dealing With ED

Dealing with ED can be a lonely experience, so it can help to bring up the statistics gently. Feeling alone is one thing, but knowing you’re one of the millions and millions of people with the same condition can be far less isolating. 

See What Treatment Options He’s Comfortable With

Having an open discussion about treatment options is another way that you can support your partner during their struggle with ED. Obviously, this is best when done with their medical provider, but it’s always ok to tell the doctor you want to go home and talk about it as a couple, too. 

Some of the current options include:

  • Viagra (sildenafil) - Is there a medication more synonymous with ED treatment than Viagra? It wasn’t just the first of its kind; it’s also still the most commonly prescribed ED drug. It works by increasing the blood flow to the genitals, helping the spongy tissue have more of what it needs to get and stay hard. It takes 30 to 60 minutes to start working but can last up to five hours. Common side effects include heartburn, headache, flushed skin, and nasal obstruction. 
  • Cialis (tadalafil) - Cialis has been around nearly as long as Viagra, although it doesn’t have quite the brand name recognition. Cialis does have one big advantage over Viagra, though — it has the longest-lasting effects of any ED drug (it can remain active for up to 36 hours!). Cialis comes from a class of medications called PDE5 inhibitors, which target a compound known as cGMP, responsible for “relaxing” the penis (read: stopping it from getting hard). It does take a few hours to kick in and has the same side effect potential as Viagra.
  • Levitra (vardenafil) - Levitra is another PDE5 inhibitor, falling somewhere between Viagra and Cialis in terms of effectiveness and how long it lasts (about seven hours, on average). Again, headaches, heartburn, nasal obstruction, and flushed skin are common. 
  • Stendra (avanafil) - Stendra is the newest ED drug on the market. It works roughly the same as the other PDE5 inhibitors, but it is the quickest acting — helping you get an erection in just 15 minutes. It lasts about six hours and is less likely to trigger side effects because it is more specific in which PDE5 targets it works on. 

Remember, all these medications must be prescribed by a doctor (especially if you have an underlying heart condition). 

Make Changes With Your Partner

Not every ED treatment involves prescription medication! While your partner may need them to help create an erection, other lifestyle changes can work, too. Making those changes with your partner is a great way to show them you’re in this together, plus it increases the odds that those changes will “stick!”

For example, losing even a few pounds can help decrease the impact obesity can have on the ability to get hard. Obesity can trigger lower testosterone, reduce blood flow, and contribute to other health problems that directly impact erection potential, so work with your partner on coming up with a healthy diet and exercise plan to get you both back on track. 

If you and your partner are smokers, quit together! It’s a good feeling to know that your partner has your back enough to quit smoking for them, plus it makes it much easier to stick with it.

What Not To Do

My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction; What Should I Do?

Obviously, ED can be a touchy subject. Knowing how to deal with your partner’s ED is one thing, but there are also some things you should definitely not do if you want to keep their trust and communicate openly.

Don’t Blame Them

ED is a medical condition, just like any other health issue. You wouldn’t blame your partner for their heart disease or cancer, would you? 

Avoid any blaming language around ED, especially if you’re feeling emotional about the situation. Remember, ED has nothing to do with your partner being attracted to you or wanting to have sex with you. It’s not personal, so don’t take it personally, and don’t make your partner feel bad about something out of their control.

Don’t Insist You Know How To “Fix” It

Even if you do happen to be a doctor, you don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking you know everything about what’s causing your partner’s ED. Instead, let them talk about what they think is going on and encourage them to talk to their own doctor about it. 

While it may impact you, this is your partner’s health issue — so always let them take the lead on what they think will help and what they’re willing to do to manage it. 

Don’t Pressure Them

For some people, ED is also related to performance anxiety. Society has directly tied erections to masculinity and manliness, but we know logically that’s not the case. 

However, worrying about whether you can get it up when you’re getting ready to be intimate can be daunting and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pressuring your partner into intimacy if they’re not ready or feeling particularly anxious can only make things worse — let them come to you and tell you when they’re up to intimacy (and again, don’t take it personally). 

Don’t Stop Getting Intimate

My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction; What Should I Do?

Just because your partner is currently struggling to get or maintain an erection doesn’t mean you have to stop getting intimate entirely. Remember, intimacy is about so much more than just having sex. It’s more about your connection with your partner inside and outside the bedroom. 

There are plenty of ways to be intimate with your partner, even if they have ED. You can always spend time making out, break out the prostate massager, or just lay naked with each other in bed. Go on dates to keep your relationship fresh, regardless of whether you plan to consummate it afterward.

Prostate Massage and ED

My Boyfriend Has Erectile Dysfunction; What Should I Do?

Prostate massage has also been studied for its potential to help with erectile dysfunction, especially in specific populations (like those with spinal cord lesions). But how can it help?

The theory is that prostate massage (using either your fingers or a vibrating prostate massager) increases blood flow to the genital area. More blood flow can increase your odds of achieving and maintaining a successful erection, even without direct penile stimulation! 

Prostate massage can also help to “clear out” the prostatic ducts, reducing swelling and keeping everything flowing as it should.

If it's your first time doing prostate massage, there are a few things to know:

  • Never attempt any prostate stimulation or massage without lube. The anus isn’t capable of making its own lubrication, and attempting to put anything in it without lube can be painful and dangerous. Don’t go light on the lube either — use as much as you need to make things comfortable!

  • Start slow. There are plenty of prostate massagers on the market, but don’t go from zero to 60 just yet. Learn more about where the prostate is and explore it with your fingers first before graduating to larger massagers or even anal penetration. Let your partner be your guide on when they’re ready to increase the size or type of stimulation.

  • Practice makes perfect. The first few times you or your partner try to use a prostate massager may feel awkward and uncomfortable, and that’s totally normal when learning something new! Don’t force it, but don’t give up, either. The more comfortable you both get, the easier the process becomes. 

In Summary

My boyfriend has erectile dysfunction; what should I do? Just asking the question means that you’re in it for the right reasons, and you’re open to helping your partner the way they need it most. Just remember, ED isn’t personal — it has nothing to do with how attracted to you they are! 

Supporting your partner by offering them unconditional love, talking openly about the issue, and coming up with solutions that he is comfortable with is the best, most well-rounded approach!


Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction | NIDDK

Sildenafil | MedlinePlus Drug Information

Improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Function in Men with Spinal Cord Lesion | PMC

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