Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend Lashes Out Over Husband’s Medical Issues

DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend has been confiding in me about her sex life with her husband. He has erectile dysfunction, and she is upset about it. He won’t go to the doctor because he is too embarrassed.

My friend is worried about her husband’s health, but sometimes she says she thinks it is happening because he is having an affair and has nothing left for her when he gets home. It is a mess, and I feel so bad for her and for them.

I don’t know what to say to her. When she asks for my advice, I am dumbfounded. I am not a doctor or a therapist. To be fair, usually I pipe up with all kinds of advice for her challenges, but I don’t know what to tell her. She says I’m being selfish because suddenly I’m quiet. How can I get the point across that this is above my pay grade? They need to visit a doctor. -- A Friend’s Problem

DEAR A FRIEND’S PROBLEM: You are doing the right thing by keeping your mouth closed. This is your friend’s problem, not yours, and it is a sensitive one. Do not share your opinion at all, no matter what it is.

You can point your friend to some facts about erectile dysfunction, namely that some serious illnesses are often the culprit. High blood pressure, diabetes, alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease, high cholesterol and obesity are among the underlying causes for this problem.

It is important for your friend’s husband to get a physical. You might say that it is more likely that he has a medical problem than that he is having an affair. She may be able to use that argument to push him to make an appointment.

For more information on this condition, point her to