Studies have shown that over 16.5 million men in the UK experience erectile dysfunction; that’s almost half of the male population. It’s no surprise that translates into sales of ED treatments like Viagra – UK customers spend over £1,000,000 a month on ED! 

Even though erectile dysfunction is incredibly common, it still often feels very hard to talk about. But open conversation and honest communication are really important parts of sexual health, and talking about ED can make a real difference to both your relationship and your recovery. 

What is ED?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common health condition in which a man is unable to get an erection, or cannot maintain an erection long enough for sex. Men can experience erectile dysfunction at any age, but the common causes differ between younger and older men. Erectile dysfunction can have a significant impact on your sex life and your relationships.

Erectile Dysfunction Causes

Erectile dysfunction can have many different causes, both physical and psychological. Psychological causes of ED include stress, anxiety and depression. Anxiety may be a long term health problem, or a nervousness experienced in the moment, which is sometimes called performance anxiety. 

Physical causes of erectile dysfunction relate to problems with the nerves or the blood vessels supplying the penis. An erection occurs when the penis fills with blood. If there is poor circulation to the penis, this cannot happen. Equally, sexual stimulation relies on nerve supply to the penis – if this is damaged, it can result in ED. 

It is also possible to have medication-induced erectile dysfunction. The most common culprits are mental health medications, especially antidepressants and blood pressure medications. Speak to your doctor if you feel your erectile dysfunction could be medication-related as they may be able to help you find an alternative treatment without these side effects. 

How Do I Know What is Causing My ED?

It can be hard to know exactly what is causing your erectile dysfunction, but there are some things to bear in mind. Young healthy men are more likely to have ED with a psychological cause, this is because they are less likely to have the medical conditions which commonly cause ED. Older men are more likely to experience ED from underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol. 

You should also consider if your ED may be related to something else you are doing, for example, cycling can put pressure on the nerves that supply the penis, and watching pornography can affect arousal in real life situations. Your doctor may be able to help you identify an underlying cause for your ED, which may have implications for treatment. 

Effects of ED on Your Relationship

Erectile dysfunction can be a big challenge to your relationships, so communication is vital. People with ED can experience low self-esteem and may feel that they are ‘less of a man’ if they are unable to perform sexually. Partners of people with ED can worry that their partner is no longer interested in them, which can have an impact on self-esteem and trust within a relationship. 

Over time, this can lead to loss of intimacy, feelings of resentment, mistrust and ultimately conflict within a relationship. For this reason, it is really important to talk to your partner about erectile dysfunction so you can work on it together. 

Talking About ED

Erectile dysfunction still has stigma attached and we don’t really see it talked about in the public eye. For this reason, it can feel very difficult to take the plunge and start the conversation. Whether it’s you or your partner who is suffering from erectile dysfunction, it can be hard to know how to broach the topic without making things worse. Here we try and outline a few strategies to help you get talking. 

  • Don’t Delay: There is no ‘right time’ to bring up erectile dysfunction, so don’t keep delaying in the hope of getting the perfect opportunity. Sometimes, the longer you wait, the harder it can be to bring it up. There’s nothing wrong with bringing it up immediately after failed sexual activity; being open and honest about it may actually bring you closer.
  • Remember ED is Very Common: as we said above, around half of the men in the UK have reported experiencing some form of ED!
  • Honesty is the Best Policy: When talking about awkward or embarrassing topics, it’s easy to fall into the trap of white lies and deflections. Even if something is really difficult to talk about, it’s best to be really open and honest about how you feel. Whether it’s you or your partner who is experiencing ED, you need to be able to express yourself if you are going to be able to deal with this in your relationship.
  • Listen, Listen, Listen: Just as it’s important for you to express yourself, you need to make sure that your partner feels heard too. You may find that your partner is just responding to what you have said – make space for them to open up about their feelings as well. Simply asking ‘how do you feel about all this?’ or ’do you feel it’s having an impact on you?’ gives your partner the opportunity to express themselves and gives you the opportunity to reassure them as well.
  • If Things Get Heated, Diffuse the Situation: Ideally, things shouldn’t get too heated, but as anyone in a relationship knows, sometimes these types of conversations just don’t go to plan. If you notice yourself or your partner is beginning to get angry or confrontational, remember that this response is probably coming from a difficult emotional situation with feelings that are hard to process.
    • Phrases like ‘help me understand’ or ‘is there anything I can do to make you feel better?’ lets them know that you’re ready to listen and to work with them towards a solution. 
  • Talk About Solutions: Once you have both felt heard, it can be really helpful to bring up some possible solutions to show that you care about resolving this situation. This could be as simple as arranging a doctor’s appointment, or trying some over the counter ED medication like Viagra Connect. If you feel the cause may be more psychological, perhaps you could have a look online for some techniques that might help you, or if it’s an ongoing problem, you could suggest you speak to a therapist. 

Our Treatments

If your ED has a physical cause, erectile dysfunction medications may be the best place to start. Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil) and Spedra (avanafil) are popular ED treatments available from Simple Online Pharmacy. They are all very similar medications, belonging to a group of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. Their similarity can make it hard to know where to start, so it’s important to consider the key differences between each medication:

  • Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are typically taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before you intend to have sex; Spedra works more quickly, and can be taken 15-30 minutes before sex. 
  • Cialis is also available as a daily dose, which you can take once a day to allow you to have sex more spontaneously. 
  • Levitra is available as a tablet or in an orodispersible form. This can be better for people who have difficulty swallowing tablets.
  • Generic forms of these drugs, such as sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil, are usually significantly cheaper than their branded alternatives (Viagra, Cialis and Levitra) and should deliver very similar results. 

If you have tried at least two different ED tablets, you may wish to try Vitaros cream (alprostadil) instead. Vitaros cream is the only topical treatment for erectile dysfunction available through Simple Online Pharmacy. You simply apply it to the penis 5-30 minutes before sexual activity and it works by improving blood flow to the penis directly to help you get an erection.

View our full range of erectile dysfunction treatments

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem, but it can still be very difficult to talk about this with your sexual partner. It’s important to be open and honest with each other as soon as possible, to ensure you give each other the support you need. Talking to your partner about ED is a great way to start your treatment pathway to make sure that you’re not dealing with erectile dysfunction on your own.