Erectile dysfunction is usually considered a men’s health issue, but it can affect both partners in a relationship equally. Without an identifiable cause for the problem, women may blame themselves, suffer from low self-esteem, or question their partner’s commitment to the relationship. It doesn’t help matters that many men deny the possibility of a problem, preferring to blame their problems getting erections on stress or other psychological causes.
That being the case, women are often instrumental in their partners’ finally seeking help for ED. Women in general are more likely to seek treatment from health care providers, and tend to be the decision makers when it comes to health care for their families. Not to mention, when ED begins to affect an important relationship negatively, it can drive men to get the help that they need. Often, that takes the form of a prescription for Cialis or another ED treatment, as well as treatment for any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, that can cause or exacerbate ED.
While medical treatment is certainly important for living with erectile dysfunction, men can also benefit from the help of their partners on a day-to-day basis. Living with a supportive and understanding partner who acts as a teammate in dealing with his condition can do just as much for his overall well-being, and ease the symptoms, as taking your medication and following doctor’s orders. There are a number of ways you can be a supportive partner, and best of all, most of them will not only strengthen your relationship, but help you get healthier as well.
Get Physical — In the Gym
Getting plenty of exercise is one of the best ways to manage almost any condition. While taking a walk around the block has some benefits, ED patients often see greater benefits from exercising more vigorously. Cardiovascular issues are often the culprit behind problems getting an erection — and trouble in the bedroom can often be a harbinger of more serious heart problems down the road.
In fact, studies show that men who suffer from impotence are more likely to be hospitalized for heart-related conditions, leading doctors to suspect that ED is an early indicator of heart disease. While there’s no conclusive explanation, doctors suspect that it’s due to the fact that the arteries of the penis are smaller than those in the rest of the body, meaning that issues elsewhere, like plaque buildup, show up here first.
Regardless, it’s never a bad idea to focus on heart health, and the best way to do that is follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines for exercise: 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 2-3 times a week. Work out together; make it a friendly competition, or set some shared goals. When you commit to exercising together, you’re more likely to succeed, and your partner won’t feel alone.
Change Your Diet
There is little that’s more frustrating than being on a strict diet while your partner eats whatever he or she wants. Since abdomen fat has been linked to ED, as it’s often associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease, a diet that’s high in fat and calories is not the best choice for improving your sexual function.
Women can help their partners by encouraging lifestyle changes, and making the same changes in their own diets. Again, make it a challenge: See who can eat more fruits and vegetables each day, or find the tastiest new recipes. Learn to cook together; many hospitals or adult education centers offer heart healthy cooking classes where you can learn new dishes and modifications to make your favorites healthy. By serving as a source of accountability and support, you not only help your partner become healthier, but you also show how much you care.
Develop Intimacy Beyond the Bedroom
One aspect of ED that many couple’s struggle with is getting intimate — or more accurately, maintaining intimacy when sex is problematic. While treatment is often effective, many couples struggle to rekindle sexual relations due to fear or hurt feelings. It’s important then, to find other means to stay intimate with each other beyond the bedroom.
Other types of physical contact, such as cuddling or massages, can help maintain connections, as can making time for each other. Schedule “date nights” without the expectation of sex, or simply commit to spending a certain amount of time each day talking and connecting. Of course, the suggestions mentioned above can help maintain and strengthen intimacy; spending time together exercising or cooking creates the type of shared experiences that keep couples strong.
Above all, remain positive and reassuring. Just as you fear that your partner’s problems below the belt are because of something you did, there’s a strong likelihood that he is dealing with his own feelings of fear, embarrassment, and inadequacy. Encourage him to share his feelings, if not with you, at least with a doctor or mental health professional. Again, the good news is that in most cases, erectile dysfunction is treatable, and most men who seek treatment are able to maintain a healthy, satisfying sex life, especially when they have the support of a partner.