Dealing with Impotence


My husband & I have been married for 26 years. He’s been a severe diabetic since before we were married and as a result has been impotent for the last 15 years. He still desires sex but can’t get enough of an erection for intercourse. We’ve been having oral sex and hand manipultion as our sex life for all these years. I’m just learning that this could be wrong according to the church. We’ve tried all of the available medications but they don’t work for him. Surely God wants us to enjoy each other sexually even though we can’t have intercourse. I’m really struggling with this.


DH and I find ourselves in the same situation and I too came to this realization rather late. Unfortunately, no, there is no option but doing without. It was rather difficult to explain that one to DH since he’s non-Catholic but now it’s both our cross to bear. I don’t think he misses sex as much as I do.


I will pray for you two…I’m sorry you’re struggling with this. :frowning:


Thank you. It’s difficult and I find myself angry at him for not having listened to his doctors and basically bringing this upon himself or rather upon us.


*Yes, I can see where that would happen. Many people don’t realize that women bond through sex also…and that when that bond is no longer there, for whatever the reason, it feels like a loss of sorts. Again, my prayers with you. I wish I had some useful or practical advice, I am not familiar with this ‘‘condition,’’ for lack of a better word…but praying and asking Mary for her prayers, would be the best thing to do when we are helpless. :hug1: *


I know you’ve probably thought of this-but Viagra? Have any of those done anything for him?

Ma’am I’m so sorry for you-I know how important lovemaking is to a releationship. Have you considered talking to a priest about it? Maybe he could give you some advice…


~ 25% of men do not respond at all to Viagra, and its effect is limited to certain types of impotence. If you can’t get the blood in there, Viagra will have no effect at all. And then too, you have men who will categorically refuse to take it, particularly after reading of all the possible side-effects.

As for talking to my priest, I’ve tried that in confession. He didn’t know what to say. He asked about viagra and then pretty much changed the subject.


I know you’ve said that medications haven’t helped, but you don’t mention surgical implants. That may not be something either you or your husband wish to try but there is no moral reason (that I am aware of) why you couldn’t consider it. I don’t know if there are any medical disadvantages (other than general surgery concerns).


Sounds like the answer would be to go right to the cause rather than just deal with the symptom. Has his doctor given him any hope of beating the diabetes?

I’ve heard that erectile function is a barometer for overall health. He really should consider this to be a red flag not to be ignored.



Well don’t just stop there ma’am! I understand that Viagra might not be an option, but there are other options-I’m no doctor, but there has to be some other choices.

Also, don’t just talk to one priest. Talk to several! Talk to Catholic therapists, exhaust all the options.

I don’t mean to sound harsh at all, so I apologize if I do…just trying to give you some other options.


There are no other priests and there are no therapists. As long as HE doesn’t care that he’s impotent there is not much I can do about it.



With all due respect, you can always find another therapist-for you. Maybe, if he doesn’t want to go, the therapist can suggest to him that he go. Also, get him talking to a priest.

If there “are no other priests to talk to” and “no other therapists” in the entire globe, and you’ve been to literally every single one, then I will concede your point. Until then, don’t lost hope!


It’s not a matter of losing hope, I’ve already accepted that my sex life is over. Yeah, I miss it, but it’s like any loss: you get angry, you grieve, the pain lessens and you move on. No therapist is going to change that fact and no priest is going to change the rules so that I can go back to having a sex life without intercourse.

As for my husband, he’s quite content with the status quo so he would see no reason to see anyone, least of all a priest since he’s not Catholic.


MK56-Don’t lose home, or accept that it’s over until it really is. Try to consult a priest, or a therapist.

Phemie-I often find that people who accept the “Inevitable” sometimes just give up. As Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, Rage, against the dying of the light.”


I’d agree with you if it were a life and death situation. As it is, he’s not going to get better, it’s the nature of the disease, and if that’s the worse that happens with his diabetes I will consider myself lucky. I’m a nurse so I know what awaits me if he doesn’t start looking after himself: I’ll be looking after someone with progressively fewer toes, then probably no feet, legs amputated above the knee and possibly blind. Impotence will seem insignificant when that starts happening.


That is just shockingly sad. There has to be some underlying reason that your husband places such little value on the things that he should absolutely treasure. Will he really not see a therapist? What he is doing to himself is spiritually disastrous in addition to the health and relationship implications. I am really sorry that you are having to go through this as well. Is there nothing that you can do to help him reach bottom NOW and get some fight back in himself?


He has never believed that anything bad would happen to him.
He was in the military and his weight was having a major impact on his career – no weight loss = no promotion and at one point he was 2 weeks from being released because of it. They admitted him to the hospital, he lost the weight under supervision and passed his physical. Two months later the weight had all come back but he’d avoided being canned. As for promotion, he didn’t want one, he was an air traffic controller and a promotion would have put him in a supervisory position and taken him away from the seat in front of the radar scope, a place that was more playroom to him than job (not to mean he was irresponsible, he just loved the job that much that it was more play than work.)

The diabetes eventually led to his released from the military but he walked out of work in uniform one day and went back in the next morning to the same ATC job as a civilian (full pay + military pension). That lasted until his diabetes became too bad for him to get his ATC license renewed. Again he landed on his feet since they could use his experience as an ATC in another job for the military that didn’t require him to pass a medical. I can guarantee that if he had a choice today between fixing his impotence and getting his butt back in that seat he’d choose pushing tin over sex any day.

As I said, it’s always worked out for him so he thinks it’s going to keep working out. There is also the fact that he has never seen anyone with diabetes except one family friend who is now 80 and lived pretty much the same way he does. She’s still in fairly good shape. I, OTOH, watched my grandfather and my uncle lose bits of themselves until they died and treated my share of diabetics in my short nursing career. I know the score but can’t impress on him that he’s really in danger.


You are totally right about it being a terrible way to go.

It sounds like a case of wanting to avoid intimacy and be in a position of control.

So, since he thinks he has successfully avoided all consequences for his destructive behavior, what does he do for enjoyment and fulfillment outside of the job? What do you do for enjoyment and fulfillment?


We’re each involved in different organizations in our town; he works with the police as a civilian volunteer, he’s part of the ground search and rescue team and also of the amateur radio club (as a HAM operator he often works in communications for various sports events like marathons and such). I’m involved with the arts. Together we geocache, something we can do alone if the occasion arises but that we do mostly as a couple.

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