“We Were Too Young to Give Up Our Sex Life”

When Tom Waters’ diabetes led to erectile dysfunction, it almost cost him his marriage. Here’s how he and his wife got their chemistry back.

Brian Alexander
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Fighting for their marriage
Frieda, who runs her own manicure business from home, recalls that one day, a customer asked, “How are you doing?” and she burst into tears, pouring out her problems. The customer suggested that Tom and Frieda see her church pastor. There was no magic to the pastor’s advice—and Tom never mentioned his erection problems—but the counselor did get them talking. They talked about their feelings and how their reluctance to be affectionate had nothing to do with a lack of attraction or love. They discussed Tom’s work stress, and then, finally, Frieda confronted Tom about the problems in bed. “I said, ‘Look, this is awfully young to be giving up your sex life.’ I told him I was willing to try anything,” she says.

Tom saw a urologist, who confirmed his suspicion that his diabetes was causing his erection problems. It turned out he was suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED). So, the two of them worked their way through a string of therapies—like a vacuum pump device that forces blood into the penis and a medication that’s injected into the penis just before sex—to help them reclaim their sex life. Since 2007, Tom has used a penile implant, a device that pumps saline into tubes surgically placed in his penis to imitate the way blood normally fills the tissue. Today, Tom and Frieda are thrilled that they got “that playfulness, that sexiness back.” It’s not something they take for granted, though. Says Frieda, “We’d had a great sex life—and a great relationship—and we had to fight for it every step of the way.” 

April 2013