Impotence Imposes on Relationships
Expanding Definition of Sex
One of the benefits of treatment -- be it medical or psychological, or a combination of the two -- says Donahey, is that it can educate both partners about ED. It's important to realize, for example, that just as a woman's sexual responses may change as she ages, so, too, do a man's. "A man's sexual response rate also slows down as he gets older," Donahey points out. "Whereas in his 20s, he might have been aroused simply by looking at his partner, in his 40s or 50s, he may need more direct stimulation of the penis. A woman shouldn't take this as a sign that her partner finds her unattractive."
Donahey also suggests that couples expand their definition of what sexuality is so that they can maintain their physical intimacy. "Be more flexible," she advises. "There's more to sex than just intercourse ... try manual stimulation, oral stimulation, stroking, kissing. These are all a part of an intimate relationship and can lead to an orgasm for both partners.
"Men can have an orgasm without an erection," Donahey says. "Many people don't know that, or don't believe it, but it is true."
Many couples are reluctant to even begin any kind of physical contact for fear of further disappointment. That, however, can lead to even more of a physical distance between the couple, which can eventually take its toll on the relationship. "It's important to maintain that sense of intimacy," says Donahey. "Don't make intercourse the determining factor."