Dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED) in your relationship can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to get pregnant. Struggling to have sex is one thing, but trying to grow your family while your partner has erectile dysfunction can be stressful and maybe even feel hopeless. Aside from the emotional toll it can take on you and your significant other, you’re probably wrestling with a list of questions, like can you get pregnant if your husband has erectile dysfunction? How does erectile dysfunction affect fertility?
While this may be a confusing and frustrating time, it’s helpful to know that pregnancy is still possible. Seeing erectile dysfunction and pregnancy side by side may seem like it can’t lead to a fruitful conclusion, but you aren’t the first to deal with this and there are answers.
Two experts who specialize in fertility share some options available for couples.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex.
“It can have neurological, vascular, hormonal, or psychological origins,” says Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg, M.D. and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist. A few things that contribute to ED include:
- Anxiety and depression
- High blood pressure
- Some medications for depression, high blood pressure, and allergies
- Drinking an excess of alcohol
- Being overweight
About 30 million men in the U.S. have ED. And although it’s more common among men who are middle-aged (over 45) and older, it still happens among the younger male population.
But don’t jump to conclusions if your husband has the occasional trouble getting an erection. If you’re concerned, he can see a urologist to be tested for ED.
Do erectile dysfunction drugs affect fertility?
“Contrary to what one might think, it’s widely considered that erectile dysfunction drugs positively affect a man’s fertility for the simple reason that he can get an erection and have the chance to conceive,” Dr. Peter Rizk, M.D., OB-GYN, and fertility expert tells Romper.
And contrary to a common misconception, having ED doesn’t automatically mean your husband has a low sperm count.
“Erectile dysfunction, if hormonal, meaning endocrine in nature, may be associated with decreased sperm concentration. Otherwise, sperm count may be normal,” Kenigsberg says. Which will definitely give you more options when you’re trying to get pregnant.
“Because one in five couples experience fertility issues, and in nearly half of those couples the male partner is the cause, it’s smart to do everything you can to support sperm health,” Rizk tells Romper. He recommends men add an antioxidant-based fertility-specific support supplement to their health regimen.
What are the options for getting pregnant if your husband has ED?
ED may make getting pregnant the traditional way a challenge, but you still have options that can help you to grow your family.
Other than medication, you can choose to be inseminated (a medical procedure to place sperm in the uterus) with your husband’s sperm, according to Kenigsberg. You can also have his sperm frozen so it can be available when you’re ready to start your process of insemination.
“Men should talk to their urologist and fertility specialist to find the right fertility treatment plan for them,” says Rizk.
Getting an ED diagnosis can be scary, but it doesn’t have to totally thwart your family plans. Treatment is available, and pregnancy is possible.
Dr. Daniel Kenigsberg, M.D. and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist
Dr. Peter Rizk,M.D., OB-GYN