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ED & Male Identity/Mental Health

Hi there! Dr. Abram McBride, the Men's MD here. Today, I'd like to talk to you about the relationship between erectile dysfunction, confidence and mental health. I know this may sound a bit strange because erectile dysfunction's effects on mental health aren’t necessarily direct, as some may think, but I would argue that it completely affects mental health.

While erectile dysfunction is a physical symptom of an underlying disease or disorder, this particular symptom can have an impact on the patient personally as well as their partner (1, 2). The effect that erectile dysfunction has on a patient's mental health, in particular, a man's identity with himself, can have a profoundly negative impact not only on the patient but also on their partner (2).

Think about it. For many, the ability to achieve an erection makes them feel whole or at least normal.  When a man has erectile dysfunction and is not able to perform in a way that is satisfying for him and his partner, not only is that going to lead to an issue in the moment of sexual intercourse or the moment of intimacy, but it's also going to lead to issues in that relationship at other times of the day.

Perhaps that patient is not going to interact with their partner the same way when they aren’t confident in their erectile function. Imagine it’s Valentine's Day or another romantic occasion. A patient with erectile dysfunction may not be as cuddly or physically interactive with their partner because they're worried that if things go down a certain pathway, then they will be exposed or expected to perform in a way that they know they cannot because they have erectile dysfunction.

The result is a lack of self-confidence, embarrassment, emasculation, and a negative image of themselves that can lead to uncertainty, avoidance, and depression. I see my male patients suffering. They feel sad, they feel downtrodden, they feel frustrated, and angry, but most of all, they feel depressed because they cannot function in the way that they're supposed to or the way that they want to.

There is also a negative impact on their partner if a man withdraws from the relationship and becomes more secluded and isolated. They may start to wonder if their partner is attracted to them, if they are somehow causing the ED, or if the relationship is broken. And like any relationship, when one partner starts to behave that way, then the other partner may feel disconnected.  Two individuals could grow apart.  I see this all the time in my patients with erectile dysfunction.  Many have lost long-term relationships, marriages, confidence, and all hope after losing their erectile function.

For many of my patients, treating their erectile dysfunction has completely turned around their relationships and their outlook. After restoring their sexual function and confidence, men can work to regain or repair their lost or damaged relationships or build new relationships with new partners.

It's important always to remember, and I'm saying this as much to my medical community colleagues as anyone, that erectile dysfunction has a negative impact on a man's mental health and their relationship with their partner, and it is essential to treat the condition, as quickly and as immediately as possible.

Indeed, treatment can involve a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach, focusing on mental health, physical health, hormones, and wellness to ensure good overall health. We simultaneously work on treating chronic diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious medical conditions while using various treatment options to address erectile dysfunction (pills, vacuum devices, injections, and penile implants). Don’t give up if one treatment option doesn’t work or isn’t well tolerated; several options are available.

In my experience as a men’s health expert in treating patients with erectile and sexual dysfunction, I’ve seen that the penile implant has the most profoundly positive impact of any available treatment option. Following the implant procedure, I’ve often seen a constructive change to the patient and their happiness, mental health, and relationship.  

People always ask me, “How did you get into this area of medicine?”  It's very simple to answer: when you treat a patient with erectile dysfunction and unlock this area of their lives that previously was lost, and they're able to perform sexually and also be confident in themselves and confident in their relationship, you get two happy patients. You get the patient and their partner, which is incredibly satisfying to me.

If you or your partner are experiencing erectile dysfunction, you may find that it is difficult to talk to them about it. However, discussing the condition with your partner and medical provider is important in a shared treatment journey. If you are struggling to start the conversation, visit Talking About Erectile Dysfunction Can Change Your Life | for helpful guides and recommendations.

If you'd like to learn more about erectile dysfunction treatment, visit or



  1. Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, et al. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Urol. 1994 Jan; 151(1):54-61.
  2. DiMeo PJ. Psychosocial and relationship issues in men with erectile dysfunction. Urol Nurs. 2006 Dec; 26(6):442-6. is a website owned by Boston Scientific.

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  1. Abram McBride, MD is a paid consultant of Boston Scientific.

The information provided in this article is based on the experiences and opinions of Dr. McBride. It does not represent the opinion or recommendation of Boston Scientific.

This material is for informational purposes only and not meant for medical diagnosis. This information does not constitute medical or legal advice, and Boston Scientific makes no representation regarding the medical benefits included in this information. Boston Scientific strongly recommends that you consult with your physician on all matters pertaining to your health.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: These materials are intended to describe common clinical considerations and procedural steps for the use of referenced technologies but may not be appropriate for every patient or case. Decisions surrounding patient care depend on the physician’s professional judgment in consideration of all available information for the individual case.

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J. Abram McBride, MD

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