Sexual Health Q&A

How does erectile dysfunction (ED) affect a man’s self-esteem?

Many men associate erections with their identity. Erections are tied to their masculinity and feelings of self-worth. So when erectile dysfunction (ED) occurs, they may lose confidence in themselves and in their abilities to please their partner. Depression and anxiety are common in men with ED and can affect not only the sexual relationship, but social and work activities as well.

However, effective ED treatment may boost self-esteem. A May 2013 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that increased erection hardness with treatment led to significant improvements in confidence and self-esteem.

Researchers asked 478 men with ED to complete the Self-Esteem and Relationship (SEARS) questionnaire, once before starting ED medication and again about three months later. SEARS is scored using a range of 0 – 100, with 0 indicating the worst situation and 100 indicating the best. For the men with ED, mean self-esteem scores increased by almost 30 points during the study time.

Partner support can also help men with ED-related self-esteem problems.