Should you tell your partner about your erectile dysfunction?

Fiona Clark

Many men don’t tell their partners about their Erectile Dysfunction, but could that put their health at risk?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED), it seems is still a taboo topic, especially among younger men with a recent survey showing 67% of under 40  year olds do not tell their partners if they are having difficulties getting or maintaining an erection.

ED is said to affect 50% of men aged between 40 and 70 but very few seek help. Another survey done by the Co-op Pharmacy a few years ago found the 50% of men in their 30’s, 42% of men in their 40’s and 41% of men in their 50’s  had experienced ED – but only 28% had been to their GP and just 9% had discussed it with their family.

Some of the reasons why men don’t tell their partners were discovered in a survey done by Dr Fox Pharmacy of 27,000 men taking medication for ED. While the majority of men under forty weren’t forthcoming, as they aged they were more open about it. Some 67% of those aged 40-60 were willing to tell their partners and that figure rose to 83% for those aged over 60.

Some of the reasons why men were unwilling to talk about it included:

  • embarrassment,
  • fears the female partner would think she was unattractive, and
  • damage to male pride.

Some reasons the men gave for telling their partner included:

  • a need for honesty in the relationship,
  • a preference for sharing,
  • the effects are quite obvious and so they could plan to be together at the right time for it to work.

According to the Co-op survey younger men site too much alcohol, tiredness and stress as causes for their ED. But GP Dr Unnati Desai explains, the ED itself can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition – especially in older men, so it’s always worth having a chat with your GP.

“In some cases, especially as men age it can also be an indicator of other underlying conditions such as heart disease. Conditions like diabetes may also affect erectile function. Any thing that has damaged the penis and impair blood flow can also affect a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection,” she says.


The good news is that with the right assessment and treatment the ED may improve.

In the case of damage to the penis that has affected blood flow or has caused a curvature known as Peyronie’s Disease, platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatments known as the P-Shot may help, Dr Desai says.

This involves drawing a small amount of blood and spinning it to separate the blood cells from the plasma which is rich is stem cells and growth factors. The plasma is then re-injected back into strategic spots in the penis where the stem cells and growth factors go to work to help improve and regrown blood vessels and other tissue in the head and shaft.

“I know it’s not easy for men to discuss these things with the partner or their doctor but they may find a quick chat with their GP can really make a difference,” Dr Desai says.

In addition to the possibility that it may uncover an underlying medical cause, it may also help with any stress or psychological issues that the ED is caused by, or is causing you as a result. The Coop study showed 21% said that had experienced mental health issues and 25% said they’d lost confidence in dating because of their ED. Some 31% said they’d broken up with their parter because of it and the same amount said it had out a strain on their relationship.

Honesty is the best policy

Dr Tony Steele, Medical Director at Dr Fox Pharmacy, says speaking with your partner can actually help relieve the stress associated with ED.

“We understand it is not always easy to talk about these things, particularly for younger men or where there is a new partner. It is
clear that men who share with their partners can see the benefits.”

As one respondent said: “Best to be honest, why hide a medical problem”.

Will you be starting the conversation?

Key Findings from the Co-op Pharmacy research include:

  • 50% of British guys in their thirties admit they are struggling in the bedroom
  • 43% of men aged 18-60 across the UK are suffering impotence
  • 4 in 10 men blame stress, followed by tiredness (36%), anxiety (29%) and boozing too heavily (26%)
  • The largest affected age group of men with erectile dysfunction is men in their thirties
  • 31% have felt a strain on their relationship as a result of their problems
  • 31% have even broken up with a partner due to the issue
  • 25% have lost confidence when dating
  • 21% have suffered mental health problems as a result
  • 31% of men affected in their 30s have obtained Viagra from a doctor
  • 62% of men in their 30s would rather send their partner to the GP to get medication on their behalf
  • 19% of men affected in their 30s have bought Viagra from a source other than their GP or registered online service.
  • 33% of men aged 18-60 said they have not told anyone about their erectile dysfunction.
  • Only 28% have gone to their GP
  • 9% have discussed it with another man in the family
  • 43% of those affected by impotence say they could not discuss the issue with friends
  • 23% would even feel uncomfortable discussing it with a GP

Doctors who perform the P-Shot include:

Dr Unnati Desai

Dr Shirin Lakhani

Dr Sherif Wakil


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