By definition, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) can be regarded as the inability of a man to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It can equally be referred to as impotence. This challenge is no doubt very common among men and has caused a lot of intimate relationships to lose verve.

Where a man is suffering from erectile dysfunction, the chances are that the challenge may affect and/or change his relationship with himself and his partner.  Besides, the man suffering from erectile dysfunction may on many occasions be embarrassed and often times carry a guilty posture.

This, no doubt, makes it extremely difficult for any man affected by this ailment to talk to his partner about this issue.  It has been proven that erectile dysfunction has a direct impact on the life of a man and even his marriage. Erectile dysfunction in most cases does not only affect the man, but his partner as well.

Partner relationship

One major situation experienced amongst couples tackling erectile dysfunction begins with failures of sexual advances. This can have an effect on issues of trust, intimacy, and closeness.

The man then discovers that he is withdrawing emotionally and physically because of fear of failure. Consequently, his partner begins to have the belief that the man no longer has interest in her, and as a result impacting self-esteem and feelings of attractiveness.

However, in reality, the man affected by erectile dysfunction is not losing interest, but may be exhibiting signs of frustration and humiliation of not being able to complete the task of sexual intercourse. It is funny to state, that most men see it as very inappropriate to need nurturance, admit that they need a hug, or seek affection.

Therefore, such men frequently do without the comfort and emotional support often more available for women. Specifically, in a situation where a man cannot perform the act of sexual intercourse and get his partner satisfied sexually, he feels very devastated and very much alone.

According to Roy Allen, “From this cascade of events, the couple starts to alienate themselves emotionally and physically.” Even, LoPiccolo has this to say, “Partners who measure their self-esteem, femininity, and desirability by how men respond to their sexuality are particularly vulnerable to fears of abandonment and rejection.

“Men’s emotional detachment feeds into these fears. Partners may worry that their mates may be impotent with them, but potent with another person, leaving them with fantasies of betrayal and infidelity.

“This issue can drive a couple apart because of fears and misconceptions when in reality the couple needs to communicate.”

On his part, Padma-Nathan argued that, “When a man or a woman loses a loving sexual relationship due to ED, either or both individuals may choose to withhold their partner from any other type of sexual experience. After experiencing the pain associated with rejection and lack of empathy from their partner, men and women will divert their attention to other matters in order to compensate for the loss of their sexual partner.

“Sometimes potency problems are a screen for more serious emotional or relationship issues. At this point, there may be other relationship issues between the couple that take priority before focusing on ED issues.

“This is an appropriate time for a man or the couple to be referred to a marriage counsellor or sex therapist. Even the most sophisticated couples can benefit from opening lines of communication about sex and learning how best to utilise their functional capabilities. Counselling may be able to rekindle the romance and redirect energies into the relationship.”

Social/Work Relationships

Erectile dysfunction does not only affect the man’s relationship with his partner, but may also affect how the man interacts with friends and co-workers.

In addition, the man may lose his confidence, his enjoyment in life, and morale. According to Tomlinson and Wright, “Outwardly, a man might project a macho image but inside may not feel like he measures up.”

At work place, productivity can also go on the decrease because of lack of self-esteem and confidence. In another sense, there can be a change in co-worker/social relationship consequent upon the attitude of each person and how each deals with the issue.

Since erectile dysfunction is not openly discussed, a man most often feels isolated and lonely. Interestingly, most men see their career as the centre of their lives. When an unfavourable or difficult situation affects his career, a man may see himself as a failure.

Not moving up the chain of command, becoming financially sound or getting the respect of peers can affect a man’s sex life.

Any monetary setback can affect a man’s self-worth because today’s society views that as a measure of success. If a man is not performing well at work, he may find it difficult to perform well in the bedroom.