Although erectile dysfunction may cause some difficulty conceiving, it is still possible to conceive if a partner has erectile dysfunction.

Finding the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) and getting treatment may help to resolve the issue. Sometimes, people may require fertility treatments such as artificial insemination or IVF.

This article examines how to manage ED when trying to conceive and treatment options.

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ED may cause difficulties in getting a partner pregnant, but there are treatment options that make it possible for a person to get pregnant if their partner has ED.

Sperm must fertilize an egg to create an embryo, which needs to implant in the uterus to become a fetus. The testicles produce and store sperm, which the penis ejaculates into the female reproductive tract during sexual intercourse.

If a male cannot achieve and maintain an erection for sexual intercourse, it may be difficult to conceive in this way.

Treatments for ED may help people to conceive through sexual intercourse. If this is not possible, fertility treatments may help people conceive.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Can erectile dysfunction affect male fertility?

According to a 2022 review, ED may cause difficulties in conceiving. This is because a male with ED cannot achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse to result in ejaculation.

ED can also reduce the number of times a couple has sex, negatively affecting fertility. However, ED itself does not affect the quality of the sperm.

Erectile dysfunction can be associated with general health in males. The severity of ED may increase the risk of male infertility. In fact, 1 in 6 males with infertility may have ED or premature ejaculation.

If a hormonal issue is causing ED, it may affect male fertility. Low or abnormal hormone levels may affect sperm production and development. Low sex drive and low testosterone levels may be factors in ED.

People can take the following steps to help them deal with ED when trying to conceive.

Determine the cause of ED

It is important to find out the underlying cause of ED, as this can help determine the best course of treatment.

Causes of ED include physical and psychological factors, such as:

Find the best treatment

There are many treatment options for ED. The best treatment option will depend on the underlying cause and may include:

  • Couples therapy: People may want to consider couples therapy if ED relates to or is causing relationship issues, or for a person to support their partner with ED.
  • Counseling: Seeing a counselor may help resolve any emotional or psychological factors that may be causing ED. Counseling may help reduce any anxiety or stress relating to sexual dysfunction.
  • Medications: A doctor may prescribe medications, such as PDE5 inhibitors or alprostadil injections, to treat ED. They may also prescribe a change in medication or dosage if they think a certain drug may be causing ED, such as some antidepressants.
  • Testosterone: If low testosterone levels contribute to ED, testosterone therapy may help. Testosterone therapy may negatively affect sperm production, so this should be avoided in men who are trying to conceive. A person should talk with a reproductive urologist or fertility doctor about ways to increase their testosterone without negatively affecting their fertility.
  • Vacuum erection devices: A vacuum device fits onto the penis to cause an erection by increasing blood flow into the penis and preventing blood flow back into the body.
  • Surgical penile implants: Surgical implants into the penis may help people get an erection. People may have an implant that they inflate or manually adjust.

Pentoxifylline (PTX) is a medication that may help treat male infertility by improving both ED and sperm quality.

Consult a doctor about fertility

Consulting a doctor about fertility can help rule out any other conditions that may affect fertility in both partners.

A doctor can also help people create a plan for becoming pregnant and discuss fertility treatments if necessary.

Make lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes may help in the management of ED, such as:

  • avoiding or quitting smoking
  • limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • getting regular exercise and increasing physical activity
  • eating a heart-healthy diet

Plan sexual activity

If people are using medication to help get an erection, they can plan their sexual activity to fit the time frames of when the drug starts taking effect.

People may also want to plan sexual activity around female ovulation. People may increase their chance of conceiving if they have sex every day or every other day for:

  • the 5 days before ovulation
  • the day of ovulation
  • the day after ovulation

People should try to avoid using lubricants that may harm sperm.

Increase sexual stimulation

People may focus on increasing sexual stimulation to improve ED by trying the following:

  • increasing foreplay
  • using different sexual positions
  • practicing oral or hand stimulation
  • creating a suitable environment and atmosphere, such as using music
  • seeking sex education or sex therapy

According to a 2019 study of older adults, oral sex may contribute to an improved sex life and enhanced well-being.

If treating ED is not effective in allowing partners to conceive through sexual intercourse, fertility treatments may help, such as:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): IUI is a procedure where sperm is placed directly into the uterus through the cervix using a thin, flexible catheter, or tube. Healthcare professionals can use newly ejaculated sperm, frozen sperm, or sperm from a sperm donor for this procedure.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that puts an egg together with sperm in a laboratory in order to create an embryo, which healthcare professionals then place back into the uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): ICSI is the injection of a single sperm into an egg to create an embryo, which can be later placed into the uterus.
  • Sperm retrieval: A doctor will remove sperm directly from the testicle or epididymis for use in IVF with ICSI.
  • Electroejaculation: Electroejaculation uses an electric probe inside of the rectum to press against the prostate and stimulate ejaculation. This can supply sperm for IUI or IVF.

Finding the underlying cause of ED can help guide treatment and improve overall well-being. There are multiple treatment options for ED, and almost all cases of ED respond successfully to treatment.

Treating ED may help people to conceive through sexual intercourse if other fertility issues are not present. In other cases, fertility treatments may help people conceive.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about erectile dysfunction and conception.

Do ED medications affect fertility?

Testosterone therapy may improve sexual function but negatively affect fertility due to changes in other hormone levels.

PDE5 inhibitors may be suitable for people who are trying to conceive, if they use the medication when necessary rather than daily.

Alprostadil transfers into semen, so it may not be suitable for people wanting to conceive.

What are signs that a man is infertile?

A sign that may indicate male infertility is a female partner being unable to become pregnant after 1 year of regular sex without contraception.

Can a marriage survive erectile dysfunction?

ED may cause issues in self-esteem, anxiety, and stress and could lead to relationship problems.

Seeking treatment for ED and infertility issues, staying supportive and openly communicating with a partner, and seeking help from healthcare professionals may all help maintain a healthy relationship and effectively manage ED.

Although ED may cause difficulties conceiving through sexual intercourse, it is still possible to become pregnant if a partner has ED.

It is important to find the underlying cause of ED and get treatment. Treating ED may help people conceive. Fertility treatments such as IVF and IUI may also help people become pregnant.