Erectile dysfunction, or ED, occurs when a man cannot get and maintain erection firm enough and long enough for sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction has many possible causes:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive drinking and/or drug use
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Relationship issues

We’re going to focus on that last cause because having issues in your relationship can absolutely affect your sexual performance — and your sexual performance can also affect your relationship.


Erectile dysfunction can result in dissatisfactory sex or sometimes no sex at all. This can hurt both parties in the relationship — your partner may feel like they are no longer attractive (even if you are still attracted to them). You may no longer feel like you are close or intimate. You may even feel like a failure because you are unable to please your partner.

This can cause more stress, more arguments or fights, among other things, resulting in more frequent occurrences of erectile dysfunction.

The health of a relationship can impact erectile dysfunction. Relationships that are unhealthy can be more stressful and are more likely to negatively impact your confidence, self-esteem, and mental health.


No relationship is 100% perfect, which means they may not always be 100% healthy, and that is normal. But there are signs to look for when it comes to both types of relationships. You may notice your relationship has a mix of both healthy and unhealthy signs. If there’s more signs of an unhealthy relationship than there are healthy ones, it’s more likely you’re in an unhealthy relationship.


No communicating: Communication is key to the success of any relationship. When there’s a lack of communication, a relationship will begin to sour. A lack of communication during sex can also lead to more incidents of erectile dysfunction.

Disrespect: Respect is something no relationship can survive without. If you or your partner regularly insult one another, are cruel or demeaning, and/or verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive to one another, your relationship will suffer as a result.

Dishonesty: Not being honest with one another can hurt all parties in a relationship.

Controlling: Being too controlling over your partner (or vice versa) can hurt relationships. Examples of being too controlling include: financially controlling a partner (especially one that makes less), an imbalance of power (an employer and employee), demanding to know where your partner is at all times, and/or monitoring their social media accounts.

Spending time with only each other: If you spend too much time with your partner, this may be a sign that this relationship is not healthy. While it’s important to spend time with one another, it’s important to be able to go out with friends and coworkers and have friendly relationships with other people. This can also be used as a means of control, in which one partner isolates the other from their friends and family.

Pressuring one another to do things they do not want to do: If you or your partner does not want to have sex, be touched a certain way, go out on a date, or anything else, those are boundaries that need to be respected. Pressuring you or your partner to do something they don’t want or like is never okay. Both parties need to be able to consent, and if one doesn’t, then whatever it is you’re doing should stop.

Remember: An unhealthy relationship is not the same as an abusive relationship, though there is always the potential for one to become abusive.

Women are not the only victims of domestic violence and abuse — men can be, too, though men are less likely to reach out for help. Do not hesitate to get help under any circumstances. It takes a great deal of courage to leave an abusive situation. If you are in an abusive situation, have a  safety plan ready and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 in a safe location where you are not being monitored by your partner.


Regular communication: Regular, honest, and up-front communication from all parties is a must in order to have a healthy relationship. Keep in mind that even with regular communication, sometimes there will be times that things aren’t clearly communicated to one another. Arguments will still happen. That said, how you and/or your partner react to mistakes in communication is important in a healthy relationship.

Respect: Respect comes in many forms: respecting your partner’s requests and boundaries, listening to their concerns and taking them seriously, being kind to one another, and so on. Follow the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated.

Honesty: Being honest with your partner, even about issues that make you feel uncomfortable or awkward, can bring you closer together. However, honesty does not mean you need to be blunt with your partner. If your partner asks a question like “Does my outfit make me look fat?”, you don’t need to say “yes.” Instead, focus on the things you appreciate about your partner beyond their appearance or the things you like about their appearance. Make them feel loved and supported while being honest and not blunt.

Trust: No relationship can be healthy without trust. Trust means you trust your partner enough to go off to do their own thing(s), trust that if they are talking to other people, that they are not cheating on you, that you don’t need to know their whereabouts or activities at the drop of a hat. Granted, this can be difficult in relationships in which there’s been a history of infidelity. But if you are to grow past that, you will have to eventually let go and trust your partner. In these cases, couples counseling may be worth considering — even if you’re not constantly at each other’s throats.

If you’re still not sure where your relationship is in terms of being healthy or unhealthy, take the healthy relationship quiz at LoveisRespect.org to get a better idea of where your stand.


PhysioMD is a men’s health clinic that specializes in treating erectile dysfunction. We’ll work with you to determine the potential causes of your ED and discuss treatment options. If you believe you are in an unhealthy relationship that may be part of the cause, do not be afraid to tell us. We will not judge you for it or make you feel bad. Our office is a place that’s meant to ensure our patients feel safe and comfortable to tell us anything, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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