Sexual Health Q&A

Is sexual dysfunction common among male partners of infertile couples during the fertile period?

Yes. Research has shown that male partners of infertile couples may have trouble performing sexually during their partner’s fertile period. Scientists asked 236 men to complete questionnaires about their erections and their stress levels. The men were also interviewed and had complete physical exams.

The researchers found that almost half of the men were more stressed about their sexual function while their partner was in her fertile stage. Forty-two percent of them had mild erectile dysfunction (ED) during this time and almost 9% had more than mild-to-moderate ED.

What can men do in this situation? It can be difficult to relax when the pressure is on to conceive. Men may worry about disappointing their partner if a pregnancy does not occur. Couples can benefit from counseling that is especially targeted to those coping with infertility. Keeping their relationship healthy emotionally may help them relax sexually.

Men can also talk to their doctor about erection problems. There are several types of treatments that can induce erections, such as medications, injections, and vacuum devices. The knowledge that they can get consistent erections with treatment may relieve some of the stress that men feel.

Treatments should always be used under a doctor’s care, however. A man’s doctor can help him choose which treatment is most appropriate.