Effects of Impotence

Whether the cause of impotence is physiological or psychological, both the patient and his partner often experience a range of intense feelings and emotions. Any of these feelings can lead to a sense of hopelessness and lower self-esteem.

Of course, feelings of sexual insecurity can reinforce any performance anxiety a man experiences and create a vicious cycle of repeated failures and increasingly negative feelings.

The first step to overcoming these feelings is to acknowledge the problem and communicate honestly and openly with each other.

ED Effect on Self Esteem

Because sexual performance is often a big part of a man's self-esteem, experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) can be devastating not only to a man's sex life, but to his entire sense of being. Men with ED can become uncertain of themselves and avoid intimate situations with their partners; this only increases the pressure and anxiety associated with a condition which is often treatable.

In addition, erectile dysfunction can cause men to feel inadequate in their roles. Men who are suffering from ED tend to isolate themselves from their relationships and withdraw from their partners.

The psychological effects of ED can invade every aspect of a man's life, from his relationship with his partner, to his interactions on a social level, to his job performance. Therefore, it is important for a man who is suffering from ED to feel as comfortable as possible discussing his condition with his partner, and with his physician, in order to discover the treatment strategy which can best help overcome this condition.

ED Effect on Sexual Partners

Erectile dysfunction can be embarrassing to discuss not only with a health care provider but with also with a partner. It often causes men to withdraw from those who care about them, which puts a serious strain on relationships.

Partners of men with ED feel that initiating a discussion regarding the situation will cause embarrassment and humiliation. They also may develop a sense of inadequacy, thinking the cause of ED is their fault and that they are no longer physically attractive to their partner.

In most cases, ED is a result of physical causes (although it can easily be made worse by psychological factors), and can often be treated. However, silence, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy and humiliation only lead to further withdrawal on the part of both partners, increasing the distance and tension within the relationship. The anxiety which results can easily make a case of ED worse, leading to a vicious circle of failure and anxiety about failure.

Both partners and men with ED need to try to remember that ED is most often a treatable physical condition. The first step to treatment, however, is trust and a willingness on the part of both partners to discuss the situation with each other, and with a physician.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 10 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 15 Dec 2014