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A Great Sex Life with Erectile Dysfunction


One of the most devastating effects of ED is its impact on intimacy and relationships.

In surveys conducted by the ED Treatment Center, 80.8% of men with ED, and 80% of their partners, reported that ED had Some Impact or a Major Impact on their relationship.

It’s important for couples to understand that they can have a full and satisfying sexual relationship, even if the man is not able to achieve an erection suitable for penetrative sex.

Many couples are not comfortable talking about sex, or trying new things. This article can be a good springboard for discussion.

CAUTION: this article deals frankly with sexual topics. If you are under 18 years of age, or if you are offended by sexual content, please stop now.


Here are a couple of basic facts that many people don’t understand:

  • It’s possible for a man to become sexually aroused even if he does not get an erection. Remember, arousal is primarily a hormonal and mental function.
  • It’s possible for a man to have an orgasm, even if his penis is not erect.

In other words, for a man, getting hard and having intercourse isn’t a requirement for a sexually satisfying relationship. However, most men have difficulty seeing it that way. Their ability to have an erection is deeply tied to their sense of masculinity. They have difficulty talking about and dealing with erectile dysfunction.

Getting Help

In most cases, men with ED can get help for their condition. The first step is to talk to a doctor, who can determine the underlying cause, and recommend appropriate treatment. A 2013 study found that men who are treated for ED with oral medications show significant improvement in their self-esteem and confidence1.

However, treatments don’t help all men… and even with successful treatments, couples may still experience problems. That’s why men and their partners need to communicate and work together to maintain the intimacy in their relations.


In order to improve your sex life and your relationship, it’s important for both partners to start with the proper attitude. Sex is more than just intercourse… it’s about communication, intimacy, and mutual pleasure. There is no “failure.”

Erectile dysfunction can be a trigger and a motivation for couples to explore ways to give and receive sexual pleasure.

An important aspect of this journey is openness and communication. Couples need to become comfortable talking about what they enjoy, and what they would be willing to try.

Sex should be approached with feelings of fun, playfulness, and adventure. Remember your first sexual experiences? Kissing, caressing, and touching, can be as much fun as penetration!


Sexual arousal is largely mental. For most men, and many women, visual signals are a big part of getting turned on.

As long as both partners agree, wearing sexy outfits, teasing and flirting can be a good place to start a sexual encounter.

Some couples enjoy watching porn together. Note that some psychologists believe that “porn addiction” may contribute to ED by desensitizing men to real sexual experiences. However, sharing the experience of watching something that arouses both partners can be sexually exciting. It’s also a good way to learn about your partner’s turn-ons.


Many couples dealing with ED report that they miss the intimacy of sexual encounters. We, as humans, need hugs, kisses, and caresses.

Start by learning how your partner likes to be touched. Maybe running your fingers through their hair, or kissing their neck. Gradually move on to direct stimulation of the breasts and genitals. Remember that playing with a man’s penis give pleasure, even if he does not have a full erection.


Most people of both sexes can have an orgasm through oral sex. If you’re new to oral sex, don’t put on any pressure… focus on giving (or receiving) pleasure. If it leads to an orgasm, great! If not, that’s OK – it’s still fun for both partners. If you’d like to improve your “technique,” you can find many guides to oral sex on the web… but the most important this is communicating with your partner.

Toys and Games

Toys and games can be a great way to add excitement to your sex life!

Vibrators. Vibrators can feel wonderful, and can often produce orgasms. Note that vibrators are not all alike! Some are much stronger than others; you may need to try a few to discover what feels best. It’s usually better to buy a powerful vibrator with several settings than to start with a weak vibrator.

Butt plugs. Many people find that they enjoy anal stimulation. Butt-plugs and anal vibrators can add a great deal to sexual stimulation.

Strap-ons. There are some hollow strap-ons that allow the man’s penis to be inserted into the strap-on, even without an erection. This allows the couple to experience the powerful, primal feelings that come from intercourse. Some men find that they also enjoy being penetrated with a strap-on.

Bondage. Many couples find that they enjoy the feelings of one partner being restrained, while the other teases and plays with them. This may be a one-way thing, or couples may prefer to switch roles. Blindfolds may add to the experience. There are inexpensive bondage kits that include wrist and ankle restraints, ropes, and blindfolds.

Feathers, furs, paddles, riding crops, and more. Many toys are designed to add new sensory experiences. This may range from soft caresses to ticking to mild pain, depending on the couple’s preferences.

Role playing. Role playing can be a powerful aphrodisiac, as long as both couples are open to the experience. Exploring erotic literature or even porn can be a good way to find scenarios that excite both partners.

Need help dealing with ED?  Want to improve your sex life?

Help for men, women, and couples - by Zoom or phone. Contact Jennifer for a free assessment.

Jennifer Stephan at Intimate Outcomes Coaching

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Sharing this article with your partner can be a good way to open the discussion about improving your sex life. For those who are looking for more help with their sexual relationship, we recommend the following books.

Book recommendations are chosen by our editorial staff. We will receive a small royalty if you purchase these books using our Buy at Amazon buttons.

Coping with Erectile Dysfunction: How to Regain Confidence and Enjoy Great Sex
Barry W. McCarthy and Michael E. Metz

This book has been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit — an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties.

Buy at Amazon

Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex–and How to Get It
Marty Klein, PH.D.

This is not your standard sex book. Sex therapist, sociologist, and Psychology Today contributor Dr. Marty Klein goes beyond the sex manuals to reveal how our mindsets during sex are more important than any tricks or techniques—and that the way to a healthier, more exciting, more fulfilling sex life lies in first developing our sexual intelligence. 

This is a beautiful book that gets directly to the point regarding many of the issues we face in regards to communication, how we think about sex and what we want.

Buy at Amazon

Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion
Danielle Harel and Celeste Hirschman

Making Love Real will help you take your relationship to the next level, one that includes both your emotional and your sexual connection. Written by two pioneering sex therapists and relationship coaches who have worked successfully with countless individuals and couples helping them improve their relationships and sort out their sexual challenges, this comprehensive guide offers you an in-depth understanding of sexual desire and relationship dynamics as well as a highly practical set of tools that will help you have deep and lasting transformation in your relationship.

Buy at Amazon

More book recommendations.

Find a Coach or Counselor

For more help dealing erectile dysfunction, find a qualified sex coach or therapist:


  1. Costa, Pierre; Grandmottet, Gilles; Mai, Hien Duc; Droupy, Stéphane. “Impact of a First Treatment with Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors on Men and Partners’ Quality of Sexual Life: Results of a Prospective Study in Primary Care.” Journal of Sexual Medicine. Jul 2013, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp. 1850–1860.

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