As the partner of a man who has impotence or erectile dysfunction your role in ensuring that your sexual relationship remains healthy, successful and satisfying is vital.
The key to maintaining a mutually satisfying sexual relationship is communication. After all, impotence affects both partners, so it's something that needs to be dealt with together.
Without a mutual understanding of impotence and its effects, both physical and psychological, even the healthiest relationship can suffer. And the most effective way to gain an understanding of the impact of impotence is by talking to each other.
Guilt, blame, lack of self-esteem, anxiety and an unwillingness to talk are common problems encountered by many couples who seek relationship counseling as a last resort.
Pretending it doesn't exist in the hope that it will go away doesn't work. The longer the problem is allowed to go on, the more damage it's likely to do to your relationship.
It's important to know that in almost all cases, impotence can be treated successfully.
We don't want to make planning your strategy for success like preparing for war. Preparing a strategy is simply taking a common-sense approach to proceeding step by step towards your ultimate goal - resuming a mutually satisfying and intimate sexual relationship.
Step 1: Sometimes its easier said than done, but the best place to start is at the beginning.
Recognizing that a problem exists is a good starting point. Quite often reassurance, support and encouragement are all each of you needs to get back on the road to a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
Sharing your feelings about what's happening helps you both understand and deal with any negative emotions you may have been bottling up.
As Dorothy Magnussen, a participant in a Sex and Wellness Workshop run by the Burnett Sexual Health Center said:
"I was convinced my husband was having an affair. Every time the subject of what was going wrong with our sex life came up, he became withdrawn and moody. Our relationship was almost in tatters before I found out he had impotence, but he didn't know how to tell me."
Step 2: Once you've acknowledged that a problem exists, the next course of action is to learn as much as you canabout the types of treatments available, then discuss the kind of treatment you think would suit you best.
Taking the time to read A Comprehensive Guide to Impotence Education will help you discover all there is to know about impotence, the various treatments available, the physical and psychological causes of impotence and plenty of other information, advice and guidance.
Step 3: The next step is to make an appointment with your doctor for a complete medical examination.
Consulting your physician may help uncover any underlying physical condition which may be contributing to impotence. Most impotence medications and treatments require the expert advice and opinion of a doctor.
For more information about the medical procedure most doctors take when discussing impotence, we suggest you read How is impotence diagnosed?
In consultation with your doctor, you may need to discuss the next step in your treatment, or make a decision about the type of treatment recommended.
Remember that not all impotence medications and treatments work for everybody, so you may need to try various types of treatments until you find one that works for you.
Step 4: Feelings of self-doubt and lack of masculinity often accompany impotence, and these negative feelings can increase the longer the problem remains unresolved.
We suggest you read The Psychology of Impotence to learn more about what happens in a relationship when a male has impotence.
So when you're ready to resume your sexual relationship, it's important to "set the scene" - create an intimate, soothing and romantic environment. Do whatever comes naturally - it's a great opportunity to share ideas about what makes you feel comfortable, relaxed and "sexy".
Above all, choose a suitable time when the kids are tucked up in bed, you're not expecting a visit from the in-laws, and you don't have an early morning breakfast meeting with your boss.
Step 5: Remember that you may not get it right first time. Usually the first course of treatment suggested is one of the impotence drugs like Viagra®, Cialis® or Levitra®. However, these drugs don't work for everyone. You may need to adjust the dosage, or wait a little longer for the drug to take effect.
Impotence pills work best when taken without food or alcohol, so if you plan on preparing an intimate candlelit dinner for two, eat early to give yourself plenty of time for the medication to "kick in".
If you are unable to take any of the impotence medications, or they don't work for you, your doctor may recommend an impotence vacuum pump. These devices can take some practice to master, so try to be patient.
Don't be discouraged if you don't succeed in the beginning. Satisfactory results are seldom instantaneous. Try to make the process of experimenting to get the results you want a time for re-discovering intimacy, affection and above all, humor.
For a humorous look at how one woman overcame her partner's impotence, we suggest you read Rosie Hammond's Reviving Romance.
It may be worthwhile remembering the old adage "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"
To read more on the subject of impotence and women, read the article Erectile Dysfunction: It's Not Just A Man's Problem.