The Emotional Effects of Erectile Dysfunction

Just as open communication is important between a man and his doctor for getting treatment for erectile dysfunction, communication is equally important between a man and his partner. Watkins-Bruner stresses that the "emotional effects of erectile dysfunction on a couple are generally not so difficult if their relationship was healthy to begin with. Being open with your partner about your fears and concerns is the first step in overcoming them.

"What we have found in research is that couples who had a good, open sexual relationship prior to treatment have the best chance of maintaining a good sexual relationship after treatment. The drugs or the implants that we can use don't cure marital woes," she continues. "If there are other problems--if there is some kind of conflict or problem with the relationship--the couple needs to see a counselor. When the only problem is that a man is suddenly having erectile dysfunction after treatment and they have a good relationship to begin with, it's not difficult for talk about it. The ability to deal with these issues flows from that."

Watkins-Bruner believes men may feel frustrated the first time they attempt to engage in intercourse after treatment and fail. "They think because they failed to have an erection on the first try that means they're never going to have one again. That's not the case. Men need to know that just because there are times when they can't have an erection, that doesn't mean they always can't."

Plus, Watkins-Bruner reminds, "not having an erection doesn't preclude giving pleasure to your partner." She notes that there are many other ways for couples to be intimate. And many don't require an erection. "Intimacy is always possible without intercourse, and so is mutual pleasuring. Those who participated in oral stimulation before treatment, for instance, should continue that after treatment." According to Watkins-Bruner, a good therapy outcome is based on patient and partner satisfaction.