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Spontaneous intimacy can be restored in men with erectile dysfunction

The ability to be intimate spontaneously is something that keeps a relationship new, exciting and fresh. Research shows that most couples do not plan intimacy and most of us take that for granted. Being able to make love to your partner at any time and unexpectedly, when both of you are ready, is an important part of a close and intimate relationship.

One of the devastating effects of sexual dysfunction and, in men, especially erectile dysfunction, is that it robs a couple of this opportunity. Even when the cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) is a physical one (such as vascular disease), very often through frustration and apprehension about not being able to perform, the psychological effects of ED will actually worsen the problem. If ED is not discussed in the relationship, the partner may also begin to suffer from anxiety, depression and feelings of not being valued.

In the past, treatments for ED were very much linked to the act of sexual intercourse. Injections or vacuum devices to help facilitate an erection needed to be used shortly before sexual intercourse could take place.

However, with the introduction of oral tablets, which for the majority of men with ED are extremely successful treatments, restoring the ability to achieve an erection is no longer something that needs to be done directly before having sex. The oral tablets (which doctors refer to as PDE5 inhibitors) do not cause an erection. They improve blood flow to the penis and restore the ability to achieve an erection normally. In other words, sexual stimulation (mental and/or physical) is still required to achieve an erection, and the penis will return to its normal state after intimacy. Because of their long duration of action, sexual intercourse is possible for some hours after taking the tablet.

There are different PDE5 inhibitors, including tablets that can restore erectile function for a full 24 hours. This means that, as long as the tablet is taken at the same time every day, sexual intercourse is possible at anytime – intimacy can be spontaneous again.

One thing to remember is that, although the physical part of erectile function can be restored by a tablet, it may take longer to regain sexual self-confidence and get over performance anxiety. That is why it is important to persevere with treatment, even if the results are not what you would like initially. Some men take a little while to get the maximum out of their treatment as they become more confident. That is also why it is so important for couples to communicate and work through this time together.

If you have ED, or your partner has ED, don’t wait to seek treatment. Because intimacy is so much more than sex, it is the core of a happy, fulfilling and lasting relationship.

By Dr David Webb BSc(Hons), MBBCh