Erectile dysfunction can be extremely demoralizing and stressful – especially when you’re trying to conceive. Your partner can feel as if they’re losing control of their body, heading towards more serious health concerns, and, perhaps worst of all, letting you down.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a difficult topic to discuss with anyone, often with the people closest to you. First, you and your partner need to know that erectile dysfunction is not always the same as being sterile. While it may be a sign, ED does not automatically indicate that a man is sterile.
In fact, 1 in 8 couples in the United States will face issues of infertility when aiming to conceive.
To give you the best picture possible, we’ll cover why erectile dysfunction may be a sign of infertility, its primary causes, and how it can be prevented.
So, is Erectile dysfunction a sign of infertility?
In short: yes, erectile dysfunction can be a sign of male infertility. This is often due to hormonal imbalances, particularly a lack of testosterone; however, it is not a definitive sign that your partner is infertile.
As men age, some will experience issues regarding erectile dysfunction. While this is uncommon in younger men and usually an issue that begins around the age of 40, it can happen. If your partner is experiencing an extended period of what appears to be erectile dysfunction he should consider consulting a doctor, regardless of whether or not you are trying to conceive.
Common causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- Venous leaks: This is when the veins that normally compress during an erection cannot fully compress, causing the erection to go away or not last as long as usual during intercourse. Most commonly, this is a result of injury to the penis or a disease or medical treatment.
- Neurovascular function issues: If your partner’s nerves don’t signal the blood vessels to direct blood towards the penis, an erection cannot occur at all. While numerous conditions can lead to this, it is most commonly a result of medications for or the lasting effect of diabetes, arteriosclerosis, or a spinal cord injury,
- Psychological issues: Perhaps the most common causes of erectile dysfunction are not medical at all, but psychological. Men suffering from feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress can find it difficult to maintain an erection.
Visiting your doctor will help you further understand the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction, as well as whether this may affect your ability as a couple to conceive.
From there, your doctor may suggest different treatment options or routes, such as lifestyle changes, certain types of therapy, or using medication.
What are the other signs?
Outside of erectile dysfunction, there are numerous other factors that could be a sign of male infertility.
Just because you are experiencing periods in which he fails to get an erection, this does not mean this is the reason you are struggling to conceive.
Other signs of potential infertility are:
- Significant pain in the testicles
- A lack of sexual desire
- Ejaculation issues after getting an erection
- Constricted, firm testicles that harm the environment for sperm
These are common occurrences when balancing the pressure of trying for a baby and should be treated as serious medical conditions for partners looking to conceive.
How do you prevent or combat erectile dysfunction?
There are a number of ways to combat the causes and effects of erectile dysfunction.
As discussed, a significant number of people who experience erectile dysfunction do so as a result of stress and other mental health conditions.
If your partner is suffering from ED, consider allowing him some time to address other personal issues in his life and reschedule attempts to try for a baby. Struggling to get an erection can lead to further stress or distressing thoughts. Again, the ideal solution for this if it becomes a serious issue is to seek professional help.
Mindfulness can also be an extremely helpful tool as erectile dysfunction is connected to stress and anxiety. Meditation apps can be a great addition to your daily routine, as can connecting with a teletherapist for mental health support.
Erectile dysfunction can also be a result of poor physical health. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, overindulging in alcohol, and having an unbalanced diet can lead to conditions such as erectile dysfunction. By maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, your partner is giving themselves a much better chance of avoiding issues surrounding fertility. Likewise, avoid the use of illegal recreational drugs, as many of these can prevent people from feeling arousal and other sensations.
If you or your partner are concerned about their blood pressure, consider getting regular check-ups from your doctor or following a specialist exercise plan for ED.
If you are not suffering from other serious symptoms of any of these causes, your doctor may suggest that you consider trying medicine. A doctor’s opinion should always be consulted on more serious, long-term concerns.
While erectile dysfunction can be a sign of male infertility, it is only one of many minor signs and usually not as serious an issue as that. While it is uncommon at a young age, it is not impossible, and serious consideration should be taken about which route to go down to tackle it.
Scott McDougall (MPharm) is the co-founder and registered manager of The Independent Pharmacy, an online pharmacy and healthcare resource based in the UK. As co-founder of a leading online pharmacy, Scott has a particular interest in the safe and responsible implementation of online healthcare services.