Male Sexual Dysfunction: A Couples Problem?

January 25, 2022
Sexual Disorders

Male sexual dysfunction (MSD) encompasses disorders such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE). While we know that these disorders affect an individual in various ways, we often forget that it can affect their partners as well. Of course, a sexual disorder can affect someone that is not in a relationship as well.

The causes behind MSD are first determined by a professional before a treatment can be planned. A holistic approach — medical and psychological treatments — is considered to be the most effective. But, did you know that partners can positively affect the success of male sexual dysfunction treatment?

How does male sexual dysfunction affect the partner?

When a male is experiencing symptoms of ED and PE, the anxiety and stress can be projected on their partner. Partners start to garner feelings of insecurity and start to wonder if they are to blame. A 2016 survey [International Survey of Relationships] suggested that men with sexual problems (1 or more) reported: “decreased relationship happiness” along with “decreased sexual satisfaction” compared to men that did have sexual problems.

Furthermore, research suggests that they aren’t likely to openly speak to their partners about it. This lack of communication, fostered through unrealistic expectations and stigma, causes the partner to feel a lack of trust.

The effects of sexual disorders are felt by both partners involved. MSD’s decrease intimacy as well, which can further lead to low sexual desire of the partner, who may or may not be struggling with a sexual disorder themselves.

In countries like India, for example, men commonly seek treatment for ED and PE when they are trying to have children. With this situation, the partner’s distress is highlighted due to lack of conception. However, infertility isn’t the only time that a partner experiences the effects of male sexual dysfunction.

Mental health is another topic that is often stigmatized, but conditions such as ED can affect the mental health of both the patient and their partner. A 2016 review revealed that ED can result in feelings of confusion, anxiety, or suspicion within the partner. These emotions can put pressure on and cause strain on a relationship.

Easing the tension with your partner

Partners are able to provide a perspective and different points that professionals can use to help their patient work through their symptoms and mental consequences associated with it.

Stats such as about 42% of men and 51% of women have experienced some sort of dysfunction during sex, and understanding sexual dysfunction can be treated and/or improved, and that it is in fact a couple's problem, can greatly help with treatment. [Highlights Natsal-3]

Here are some steps that both you and your partner can follow:
(1) Open up to your partner; this will ease both your fears and theirs.
(2) Seek medical and psychological counseling to eliminate underlying causes of your sexual dysfunction.
(3) Be open and reassuring during treatment.
(4) Work as one team as outcomes are best in sexual dysfunctions when the couple aim to solve it together.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sandip Deshpande.

Sexual health is as important as physical and mental health. In most cases, one consultation can go a long way. Personlised, discreet and judgement free treatment at your fingertips - book an online consultation with one of Allo’s leading experts.

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Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction is defined as the inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. The condition can affect anyone at any age.


Remember - the blood flow (BF), the nerve supply, and the balance of sex hormones - a concern in any of these can lead to Erectile Dysfunction. Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by a physical (a ‘hardware’ problem) or psychological (mental health effects) - mental health can play a huge part.

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If a man lasts less than 2 minutes after penetration (all or most of the time), and/or if it leads to frequent dissatisfaction for him or his partner, he may have Premature Ejaculation.


The causes of Premature Ejaculation include:
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(2) Psychological Factors: Depression, Anxiety 

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(2) Secondary Vaginismus

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Low sexual desire, commonly referred to as low libido, is a decrease in sex drive.


Individuals that experience low sexual desire due to various causes are impacted physically, mentally, and emotionally by the symptoms the condition can cause.

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Like other most common sexual disorders, low sexual desire can be influenced by many aspects, such as hormonal imbalance, increased age, side effects of medications, chronic illnesses, and addictive or compulsive behavior.

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This would include concerns with infertility and/or conception. Sexual disorders such as Erectile Dysfunction, Premature Ejaculation, and Vaginismus can lead to challenges with pregnancy attempts.


There could be various causes of infertility, such as sexual dysfunctions, chronic illnesses, and mental health conditions leading to low sexual desire and a low sperm count. A sexual health professional should evaluate the causes of failed pregnancy attempts because there can be a variety of causes.

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(1) Negative sexual experiences

(2) Incorrect understanding of porn and its uses

(3) Initially trying to learn about sexual experiences, resulted in dependency

(4) Experiencing mental health disorders such as OCD (an anxiety disorder) or depression

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