Consequences of Erectile Dysfunction

Psychological Impact

Erectile Dysfunction Erectile dysfunction, impotence, has a psychological impact on most men, even when the cause of the problem is purely a physical one. ED can also cause relationship problems. Sexual Health Australia, offers support in the form of sex therapy & counselling to deal with these issues.

Common feelings men with Erectile Dysfunction experience are:

  • Feeling ‘less like a man' or a ‘loss of manhood'
  • A sense of insecurity
  • Low self esteem
  • Sad for his loss
  • Afraid of approaching a new sexual partner
  • Scared of being intimate with their partner
  • Angry and aggressive
  • Feeling ashamed
  • Worry about not being able to pleasure their partner
  • Feeling guilty about their dysfunction

Common feelings partners of men with Erectile Dysfunction experience are:

  • Guilty about not being able to make their partner's penis erect
  • Helpless, not sure where to go for support
  • Rejected/Unloved, not sure if their partner is still into them
  • Feeling unattractive
  • Confused/Frustrated
  • Scared/worried that he is having an affair
  • Worried about the health and wellbeing of their loved ones
  • Insecure about his love
  • Sad for him, or even for themselves, about not having an erect penis in the bedroom anymore
  • Some partners, women in particular, are relieved their man's penis is not all they bring into the bedroom anymore

The Erectile Dysfunction therefore can have a great effect on a man's and/or his partner's life in general and in the bedroom and sometimes can even affect others around them.

Common psychological consequences are:

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is very common in men with Erectile Dysfunction and it is the anxiety a man experiences when he perceives that he is not getting an erection fast enough, that the erection is not firm enough or that it does not seem to last long enough. It occurs when an occasional episode of erectile failure becomes an expected outcome of each subsequent sexual event. Once a man experiences even a single case of Erectile Dysfunction, a vicious cycle may become established whereby anxiety about a repeated episode of unsatisfactory erections is experienced whenever the man commences or even thinks about sexual activity.

Unrealistic expectations

Many men with erectile dysfunctions and/or their partners seem to have unrealistic expectations and expect sexual fantasy type of events in their bedroom. These expectations can in turn exacerbate the problem, since men compare their own performance with these expectations and feel inadequate and disappointed.

Common Sexual Myths are:

  • Sexual encounters and intercourse should just go automatically - NOT TRUE
  • Only the man should initiate sex - NOT TRUE
  • Sufficient sexual thoughts should always make the penis erect without any direct sexual stimulation - NOT TRUE
  • Both partners should achieve an orgasm every time and simultaneously - NOT TRUE
  • There is no sex without a hard erection - NOT TRUE
  • Men should be ready and able to last all night every time - NOT TRUE

Relationship Stresses:

Relationship IssuesRelationship problems can cause erectile dysfunction, but similarly erectile dysfunction can cause relationship problems.

Currently NOT in a Relationship:

A man who is currently not in a relationship may feel scared or ashamed of forming new relationships and/or of approaching new sexual partners. He may be afraid having to tell his new partner about his sexual dysfunction and hence may be scared of rejection.

Currently in a Relationship

A man may avoid touching and affection and may withdraw emotionally. His partner may feel rejected and unsure of his love. The man and/or his partner may feel sad, angry and guilty. They may not know how to talk about it with each other or where to go for support.

The inability to communicate can aggravate relationship distress. It is common for a couple not to be able to communicate effectively about sexual issues, especially when they never had to. The expectation that everything has to go automatically can aggravate the anxiety around erectile dysfunction

Partner's of Men with Erectile Dysfunction:

It is important to recognize that the erectile problem can affect both partners and that partners can play an important role in treatment and give valuable support.

For the partner to understand the causes and the way the treatments work can help partners cope with their personal issues they may have due to their partner's erectile dysfunction.

Couples can work together to bring about a positive result for their relationship.

Female partners may also need some help. A female's partner's change in libido/sex drive and lubrication, especially during menopause, is important to be managed. Without realizing it partner's can prevent treatment from working well, especially if their own problems are not considered or treated.


Sex therapy and Relationship Counselling is available in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) -  Melbourne, Victoria (VIC) -  Adelaide, South Australia (SA) -  Perth, Western Australia (WA) - Darwin, Northern Territories (NT) -  Hobart, Tasmania (TAS) - Brisbane, Queensland (QLD) - Canberra, Australian Capital territory (ACT)

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