It may seem far fetched that a couple could go for years without discussing so vital a matter as a major change in finances. But many couples react in just this way when it comes to vital sexual matters. Erection problems may be particularly difficult to talk about, because in our culture, many men equate erectile ability with being a man. Even a man who is basically secure may find himself questioning his professional and personal competence when he faces an erection problem. He may suffer reduced confidence, lack of self-esteem and depression.
The importance of erections to many men’s self-image is clear when we look at the comments of some men who used to have erection problems, but are now potent. For some, the significance of erectile ability goes far beyond sex.
One elderly man says that even though intercourse, because of ill health, is no longer a priority with him and his wife, he feels that restoration of potency was important. “It relieved some stress on my mind,” he explains. “The idea of being able to perform helps me a lot.”
Another man attributes his newly returned ability to get erections to a dramatic change in his whole attitude: “Now I feel that I can continue to function as a man. I fly an airplane and travel. I feel very special. I now move about in my social circles with confidence and pride. I am able to cope with life without embarrassment or doubts, and I enjoy every day as it occurs.”
Breaking the Ice
You and your partner can talk about erection problems, even if the subject has been completely off limits up until now. In fact, you must talk. Here are some tips to make your first discussion a little easier:
• Pick a time when you are both relaxed.
• Start by telling your partner how much you value your relationship.
You may want to bring up the questions below. The goal is to use this time to listen to your partner. Don’t try to change the way she feels, just try to understand. Questions to consider:
• Does the potency problem change the way you feel about me?
• What can I do to help the situation—and you?
• How has my behavior changed since the problem started?
• How does this change make you feel?
• What should we do about the problem?