What can you tell me about erectile dysfunction? How should I deal with it? What is it? How common is it? I almost broke up with my boyfriend because I thought it was me. Help!
Blanca Z. — San Diego, CA
Some type of erectile dysfunction (ED) will touch pretty much every man in his lifetime, so tossing one out for a new one because of this would be like tossing out a woman when she hits menopause.
The most common symptom of ED is when a man can’t get or stay hard, but there are plenty of other ways the dysfunction pops up. Another one is he’ll be having sex but won’t be able to ejaculate. That’s called edging, as in the orgasm is right there on the edge, but doesn’t reach the station. It’s simple mechanics.
ED is not something you should take personally.
Hear me when I say that it does not have anything to do with you or his attraction for you! It’s not because you have bad breath or look silly in that getup, or because he finally noticed those stretch marks, thus rendering him limp. If your inner critic is coaxing you to believe any of those lies, don’t listen to her.
The best thing you can do for the both of you is to have a conversation out of the bedroom about what else you might do together when you’re in the bedroom. Since many of us will be effected by this in our lifetime, we should all have a plan B—and C, and D, and E, etc. Penetrative sex is not the only way to connect with our partner sexually, so get creative.
When you’re together in bed and it’s just not happening for him, this is not the time to talk about it. Don’t sympathize, console, or sooth. Instead, be playfully sweet (think temptress, not teasing), engaging, cool with it, and shift gears to employ your plan B, which may or may not include toys, hands, tongue, etc.
There are medications like Viagra (the little blue pill) and Cialis that can help or fix the problem, but they also have the potential for unlovely and sometimes serious side effects. The one with the penis gets to make the final call on using one of these aides. In fact, you may want to keep your nose out of that choice and let it be his alone.
For more information about Erectile Dysfunction, check out the Mays Clinic’s site here.