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Steps Your Partner Can Take

Don’t fall victim to the common female tendency to take on all the responsibility for solutions yourself. Most sexual problems involve both partners to some degree, so ensuring that your partner is engaged in working toward a solution can make a big difference in whether a solution is reached.

Good and open communication from your partner is key, regardless of the nature of your relationship. Beyond that, for a woman with a same-sex partner, the treatments and strategies outlined earlier cover most of the steps her partner might take. So the rest of this page will focus on steps for male partners.

The biggest obstacle may be getting your partner to mention his erection difficulties to his healthcare provider in the first place.

Healthy living. Here’s your chance to get your partner to join you on the straight and narrow! All of the lifestyle practices that promote better sexual function in women—weight loss, exercise, eating right, stopping smoking, moderation in alcohol use, adequate sleep—do the same in men. In fact, the most common sexual disorder in men at midlife and beyond—erectile dysfunction—is often linked to having an excess waistline, vascular problems, heart disease, or diabetes. For that reason, practices like stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising are particularly important to sexual health in men. Don’t be shy about using this to nudge your partner toward healthier practices!

Getting his erectile dysfunction treated. Men have it lucky: there are a host of effective treatments for erectile dysfunction, from the oral drugs Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis to injected drugs, pellet drugs, and devices like the vacuum pump and penile band. The biggest obstacle may be getting your partner to mention his erection difficulties to his healthcare provider in the first place. You can help in this area by showing lots of understanding and encouragement, offering to go with him to his healthcare appointments, and being open to sexual intimacy without erections or intercourse while his difficulties are being assessed. That latter step might encourage more of the snuggling that you have been craving anyway and help expand and improve your sexual repertoire in the long run.

Supplemental testosterone makes no difference to men with low libido whose testosterone is already in the normal range.

Treating low desire. Low libido is less frequent in men than in women, but it’s not uncommon in men, especially as they age. Many people assume that testosterone supplements are effective and appropriate therapy for all men with low libido, but that’s not true. Supplemental testosterone can improve libido in men whose own levels of the hormone are clearly below normal, but it makes no difference to men with low libido whose testosterone is already in the normal range.

The bottom line is that your partner should be evaluated by his healthcare provider if his low libido is distressing to him or you; testosterone might or might not be an appropriate therapy for him, depending on his natural level of the hormone. If it’s not, your partner might consider sex therapy, lifestyle changes, and/or talking to his healthcare provider about substituting an appropriate alternate medication for a desire-dampening drug he may be taking for another condition, such as depression or high blood pressure.

Addressing ejaculation problems. Early or premature ejaculation is a common and frustrating (for both partners!) problem in men, although it’s less common as men age and gain more sexual experience. Still, if premature ejaculation is a problem, your partner should be evaluated for any underlying urologic conditions. If conditions like that aren’t present, he might benefit from the sensate focus techniques used in sex therapy, which can be very helpful for men too. Or he might ask his provider about treatment with an SSRI or other antidepressant to take the edge off his sexual response, as some of these antidepressants have successfully delayed ejaculation in clinical studies of men with this problem.

Help him to realize that counseling and sex therapy are always more successful if both partners are involved.

Joining you in couples counseling or sex therapy. Often women will seek out counseling for sexual problems alone because they perceive their problems as theirs alone, their partners are embarrassed, or their relationship is too troubled for agreement on joint counseling. If your partner wants a resolution to your problems, help him to realize that counseling and sex therapy are always more successful if both partners are involved.

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