How Do You Talk to Your Partner About Your Heart Condition and ED?
More than 61 million American men—more than half of the country's male population—suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension. Such heart issues have been conclusively linked to erectile dysfunction (ED), which is experienced in some form by 52 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70. A heart problem may not sound romantic, but being open about yours and its effect on your ability to get and maintain an erection is essential for you to have healthy relationships and a fulfilling sex life. Here's an overview of how to discuss the subject with a partner.
How a heart problem impacts your sex life
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States. They include arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, congenital and congestive heart diseases, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, pericardial disease and stroke. The most common form of cardiovascular disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, related to plaque buildup in arteries and subsequently decreased perfusion of blood. This causes a significant strain on the heart: When oxygenation of the organ is limited, it is forced to work harder when pumping blood throughout your body. Many of the pathologies involved in cardiovascular diseases impact other areas of the body, including blood supply to the penis, and thus impact sexual health.
Guys with heart disease are more likely to experience ED or difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. Similarly, having ED is a risk factor and often an early sign of heart disease. Having a heart problem impacts your sex life in other ways if you suffer from additional symptoms, such as anxiety, fatigue, decreased libido and ability to orgasm, and reduced enjoyment from intimacy.
Your partner needs to know
It's important to tell your partner about your heart problem and not just because it may impact their sex life. As your partner, they care about you. You might feel awkward or vulnerable while discussing your heart issue, but consider their perspective—if the roles were reversed, you'd want to be there for them and to be kept in the loop. You, too, would want to know how to help keep intimacy thriving.
Starting the discussion
Talk in a relaxing environment, such as while strolling outside or sitting together on the sofa listening to music. If your partner is already aware of your heart problem, you can explain that it has been causing frustrating physical symptoms and then present the options your doctor has given you. Ask how they feel and if they have any questions. If you're not experiencing ED, explain that it may be a future possibility and you want to ensure open communication to keep your relationship strong.
First, it's essential your partner understands what your condition is and isn't from a medical standpoint before you can even discuss implications in the bedroom. Remember that ED is extremely common; if your partner doesn't know this fact, they should. Talk about key heart health signs to look out for—shortness of breath, chest pain—that suggest it's not a good time for sex. Make sure they know ED is not a result of anything they did or not being attracted to them. Give them ample opportunity to discuss their feelings.
Keep things low-stress
Your partner is likely to be worried about your heart problems, which is normal. Don't scare them, but don't downplay the seriousness, either. Keep the details straightforward so they can easily understand. Reassure them with the facts: less than 1 percent of cardiac arrests occur during sex. Be open, direct and honest about the link to erectile problems, and your relationship will be much stronger for it.
Also, your heart problems aren't just about you. Make your partner feel heard. Ask them about their concerns and how you can ensure they feel satisfied. They'll likely ask how they should handle the situation if you experience ED. Be honest and calm, and they'll feel more comfortable, too. Work together as a team to determine how to keep sex (and other forms of intimacy) exciting and fun for both of you, as well as safe. Keeping lines of communication open is essential.
ED is an obstacle, but it's one the majority of guys have to deal with at some point. Unfortunately, so is heart disease. Talking about both openly with a partner can ensure you stay on the same page and keep on feeling the love.