When you are in your late thirties, sex starts to become something different. There is still hot and passionate sex — but it’s different.
It was great in my twenties, but with the years going by, sexuality started to have a different meaning. It wasn’t anymore just strings of hook-ups or awkward experimenting. With the settling down of the relationship, it became something more, deeper, more meaningful.
When I was in my twenties, having sex — even totally wasted — never had the looming possibility of my partner not being able to get it up. Yes, there were times when it was less than satisfying, but facing erectile dysfunction in a relationship — or during any encounter — came as a surprise for me.
We have been sexting all day. The funny-flirty texts slowly morphed into some naughtier, heavier stuff and my horniness — and his too — was beyond control. I couldn’t wait to get home finally and get to bed. And there we were, kissing, caressing, removing each other’s clothing with swift movements — barely making it to the bedroom.
And once we were there… it just wasn’t happening.
We got frustrated. He got angry at himself. He felt guilty. He started to sulk. Embarrassment and shame settled in between us, and my feeble attempts to ease the situation weren’t helping at all. He ended up sleeping on the couch, and I ended up watching the ceiling alone in our room.
It wasn’t a big deal. Not for the first five times. There was always an excuse or an explanation.
We couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t, and it wasn’t just his problem to solve. I was helpless too.
Watching any commercial makes it look way too simple. The frustrated guy’s troubled face is quickly turning into a confident seductive one at the popping of the blue pill (or any other magic formula) ending with a hint of a bedroom scene, promising earth-shattering passion and satisfied smiles.
The promise of the magic pill is excellent — thanks so much. But it’s not that simple or not that simple all the time. Just like any other medication, it is mainly treating the effect and not dealing with the cause — and the quick solution is too promising to dig deeper into the real troubles. It’s quite expensive also, and not everyone can afford it, or not for an extended period.
The commercials and quick solutions fail to deal with the emotions and feelings of the woman in the equation. ED can be extremely frustrating and even emotionally devastating for a man, but if it happens within a relationship, it can be equally taxing for his partner as well.
ED, or erectile dysfunction, as it is medically defined, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. Practically all men experience some erection failures at some points in their lives. The leading causes are assumed to be stress, depression, or other mental health issues in some cases. In other cases, it can be due to physical factors: obesity, heart conditions, high cholesterol, inefficient blood flow, undiagnosed diabetes. In some cases, it is a one-off occasion, but for some, the problem can become a chronic condition.
According to medical studies, ED is not at all uncommon, affecting 50% of men in the U.S. who experience some form of sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. It is the most common male sexual problem, affecting an estimated 30 million men in the U.S. and approximately 140 million men worldwide.
While medically speaking, ED is a male sexual problem, since it is occurring within a relationship, it becomes the problem for two parties — to equal measure.
Men are suffering from it, for sexuality has become a performative act, focusing on penetration — at least from a male perspective. Women are suffering as they tend to internalise things. They look for reasons, and they tend to find it in themselves, blaming themselves. The most common female thinking is that their partner doesn’t find them attractive enough anymore. The other fear is that their partner is having an affair; therefore, he doesn’t need sexual intercourse at home. The perceived lack of interest or attraction leads to frustration, anger, blaming each other, long silences and eventually it could also lead to the falling out of the relationship.
When it comes to communication, it resembles more of an interrogation, than assertive problem-solving. It could lead to both parties getting offended and hurt until the sexual initiations become fewer — trying to avoid the failure or the rejection.
The solution depends on the couple handles the problem. It starts with recognising that there is an issue to solve.
There are two main categories to handle it:
- There are the overcomers, with a shared desire to find a solution together,
- and there are the resigners, who admit to the problem but choose to ignore it without doing anything about actively, waiting for it to resolve on its own.
When the issue stems from mental blocks than a chronic physical issue, there are quite a few everyday solutions that can improve the problem.
Get professional help
Sometimes the solution is more straightforward than it seems. Maybe it is discovering a long-hidden depression or anxiety that causes ED as a side effect. In this case, it’s not ED that needs to be treated as with solving the root problem it resolves on its own with time. Adjusting the diet, consuming better-quality food, taking vitamin D supplement can already help. In mild cases, physical exercise can also be a solution, just as testosterone supplement can be.
Stress is responsible for the lack of mental and physical well-being. Of course, it can affect a man’s manhood too. Frustration, fatigue and too much responsibility or too much work can result in ED. Take a holiday or at least a couple of days off. Try to decrease the causes of stress — popping a pill here won’t help. General stress doesn’t occur overnight; it is always a long process. Getting out of it and eliminating stressors won’t happen overnight either, but it’s a good start.
When a woman experiences withdrawal from the man, it confirms her belief that she indeed has done something wrong, so she retreats further. The increased levels of anxiety and depression will only worsen the physical symptoms for the man. The result can be them stopping to communicate altogether, that will only make problems worse.
If the woman pulls back, that is the recipe for the perfect relationship disaster. It ends up being a vicious circle, and before you know it, it leaves unforgettable marks on the relationship.
Communicating about it is the first step. It is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is necessary. It requires trust, maturity and understanding. Avoiding and crossing fingers that it will just disappear seems more attractive. Still, the lack of communication can significantly affect first the sex life, and eventually even the whole of the relationship.
Don’t try harder
If it is not discussed that the ED is not the result of losing interest, some women might feel the urge to seduce their partners, to prove their worth and attractiveness. In any other case, showing some skin and get down to sexy texts is a fun and helpful way to improve the relationship. But in this case, it can be very frustrating and downright counterproductive. As the problem is not in getting aroused, wearing sexy clothes or stroking him harder will not cut it.
Sex is not just penetration
Unbelievable but true: not only penetrative sex can bring mutual satisfaction to a couple. It is understood by women, but it might be more challenging to grasp it for a man, that oral or manual stimulation can get her there. What is less understood for both sexes is that for a male orgasm, an erection is not a precondition either.
As sex is considered to be a performance, sometimes the most frustrating feeling about ED is the feeling of failure as in not being able to satisfy the woman. It’s important to understand that most women only experience or prefer clitoral orgasms to penetrative ones. It can be a great time to engage in different sexual experimenting, giving way to various solutions, other than PiV.
Shifting the mindset is the most important: It is not a man’s problem. It is a relationship problem.
Erectile dysfunction, in general, is not about the woman. Women can help a lot better in supporting their partner to seek and find treatment if they don’t need to take responsibility for their partner’s ED.