UK cosmetic, health product and pharmaceutical retailer Superdrug have released the results of a new survey discussing erectile dysfunction – from a woman’s perspective. The survey aims to help women understand ED and open up conversations between partners who are dealing with the issue first-hand.
Erectile dysfunction is thought to affect over 50% of men aged between 40 and 70 years old, many of whom are in long-term relationships with a female partner. Superdrug’s survey lifts the veil on how the issue affects women and the quality of their relationships. The report aims to help British couples tackle their bedroom issues in an open and frank manner, with Superdrug’s Online Doctor app creating a messaging tool that enables men and women suffering from the impact of ED to begin the conversation with their partner in a sensitive way.
As a result Superdrug research has found that:
- 42% of women feel that their partner’s ED is her fault
- 40% of the women didn’t take any steps to find answers or treatment
- 80% of women under-estimate how common ED is
What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction is a common sexual condition that can affect any man at any time. It’s characterized as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for the duration of foreplay and intercourse. For many men, it’s an occasional issue that can cause sexual difficulties in the short term but for others (especially those aged over 40 – for whom it’s more common), it can be more detrimental to their intimate relationships – especially if there is no conversation about the issue.
For men struggling with erectile dysfunction, pressure to perform can be stressful – so, unsurprisingly, the survey suggested that many men make excuses to avoid sex altogether. When asked to identify the reasons they thought their partner used to avoid sex, 19% of women said their partner has claimed to be too tired, nearly 14% said he used the “not in the mood” excuse, and 12% alleged he said he had drunk too much.
Interestingly though, 29% of men reported that they gave no excuse at all and their female partners provided comments such as: “It got to the point where we would avoid going to bed” and “It was an awkward thing to discuss”, an indicator that couples are just avoiding talking about the problem all together.
Do Women Self-Blame for Erectile Dysfunction?
The research showed that 42% of women feel that their partner’s ED was their fault, with almost a fifth (19%) believing their partner no longer finds them attractive.
“I thought it was something to do with me” was a comment that was seen numerous times in the responses given. Over a third (35%) said it had a negative effect on their relationship, but more than 40% of women questioned didn’t take steps to find answers or treatments, perhaps unsurprising given the sensitive nature of the topic.
If ever there was a cue to suggest communication can improve a relationship, this is it. Both partners are likely to be affected by a change in perceived sexual desire and a lack of open conversation on the subject is likely to be internalized by the affected partner. With 42% of surveyed women stating they take blame for their partner’s ED, a real need for openness on the subject is clearly highlighted by the Superdrug survey.
Talking About Erectile Dysfunction
Of those women who did seek help with their partner’s ED issues, 75% felt more positive about the situation afterwards and commented that “It made us closer to find a way to solve the problem” and “Initially it made us feel less close but only for a short time. We are much stronger now.”
The three most helpful sources were their GP (45%), online research (35%) and their own partner, with almost one in 10 claiming their partner was the best source of support. Nearly 25% felt optimistic that a solution could be found, 20% felt better knowing they weren’t the cause of the problem and 13% saw an improvement in their relationship after seeking help.
How to Handle ED in Your Relationship
To help the more than 40% of women who don’t do anything about their partner’s erectile dysfunction as well as the men experiencing ED themselves, Superdrug Online Doctor has created a messaging app to kickstart the conversation. Men and women can contact their partner in the form of a sensitive note (text, email or Whatsapp) written by Dr Louisa Draper (Superdrug Online Doctor Medical Director) to open up a conversation about ED.
Once couples have got the conversation started, Superdrug Health Ambassador Dr Pixie McKenna has provided her top expert tips to get couples tackling ED together:
- Don’t ignore the issue, not only won’t it go away, it is actually likely to worsen
- Take the problem out of the bedroom when you find the time to talk about it
- Don’t rush in and blurt things without thinking about what you are both going to say to each other and the consequences of those words
- It’s important to medicalise the problem by referring to it as ED rather than using words with negative connotations such as ‘impotence’
- Talking about it is one thing, the next step it tackling it. If you make progress in discussions, the next step is to make an action plan. If at first you don’t succeed don’t assume this means failed, it just means you haven’t yet reached a solution
- Remember the importance of romantic actions and gestures, that peck on the cheek or arm round the should reinforces your bond when you feel that you might be drifting apart
- Nominate a date night; relationships are not just about sex, romance can be key
- Be honest with each other. Speaking about ED is the time to lay your cards on the table and talk frankly about how life is going; stress and depression can be big players where ED is concerned, as can drugs and alcohol
- Do some background reading on ED and the affected partner or the other person in the relationship may recognise that the presenting problem represents far more than not being able to perform. It could be the symptoms of an underlying medical issue so don’t dismiss it
- Interact with a health care professional face-to-face or online to find out what treatments are available
Talking about the findings of the research Nicola Hart, Head of Healthcare Services at Superdrug Online Doctor said:
“The results of the Superdrug “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s ED” survey are surprising. As this survey shows, Erectile Dysfunction affects both partners and we encourage couples to seek help for the condition from a trusted healthcare provider. A free and confidential consultation is available online at Superdrug Online Doctor.” Nicola Hart, Head of Healthcare Services.
To read the “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me, It’s ED’ report in full, visit the Superdrug Online Doctor site at https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/women-and-ed/