Every couple has its share of issues and problems, especially when it comes to sex. No relationship is perfect, and people of all sexualities and genders can experience sexual problems that hinder sexual enjoyment and can be a cause for concern.

Read on for four sexual problems that gay couples encounter, plus how to resolve them. While the issues outlined here are not exclusive to the LGBT community, there are some differences that require a different approach as a result.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction can affect any man, regardless of whether he is gay or straight. But when two men are in a relationship and one (or both) of them experience ED, it can lead to further, more complex issues.

For instance, a reluctance to disclose their ED might result in a man identifying as a ‘bottom’ rather than address the issue itself. This may, in turn, lead to poor self-esteem and low confidence as a result.

Erectile dysfunction is a complex issue, with a plethora of different causes: anxiety, low testosterone, depression, underlying health conditions, excessive porn usage, and alcohol abuse are just a few examples of these.

Many men turn to medication as a quick fix for their ED. Viagra Connect is now available over the counter, and it provides a simple solution for men struggling with the issue (To learn about safe use, read more on Viagra Connect’s side effects here).

However, medication only helps you achieve an erection — it does not address the underlying cause of the issue.

If ED continues to be a problem in your relationship, speak to your doctor. They will run tests to rule out any health issue, and they might refer you to a psychosexual counselor to identify any further potential causes.

Loss of desire

A loss of desire in a committed relationship can be a difficult subject to approach, regardless of sexuality.

For gay women, the concept of ‘lesbian bed death’ is a cultural problem that can cause deep rifts in a relationship. Lesbian bed death refers to the idea that lesbian couples in long-term relationships have less sex than other non-lesbian couples, and experience less intimacy as a result.

Not every committed lesbian couple experiences this, but those that do can find it a genuine struggle. Each party might start to question their own desirability, and it can lead to a rift between each individual and even cause a couple to break up.

However, it is possible to rekindle the spark in a relationship, lesbian or otherwise. This is typically achieved through abstaining from sexual activity altogether for a month or so, including masturbation, sexual touching, or naked cuddling. Instead, spend time together without technology, focusing solely on each other.

This helps build up sexual tension while fostering an emotional connection between each party. Over time, you should find a new appreciation for each other that continues into your sex life.

Anal sex

While anal sex is not exclusive to gay men, it is commonly associated with homosexual relationships due to a range of factors. Of course, the anus is a sensitive area, which can cause problems.

This is especially important for first-timers, whose inexperience can lead to insufficient preparation. Without sufficient lubrication or preparation, men can experience intense friction during anal sex, resulting in painful tears in the anus.

Always use plenty of lubrication before attempting anal sex, especially if it is your first time. Many men choose to use plugs to stretch out the anus before penetration.

The method also plays an important role in safe anal sex. Start by penetrating slowly, then withdrawing, before attempting it again. Communication is key — be prepared to stop if any individual feels pain or discomfort. If you are out of inspiration or ideas, read this article.

Anal sex can take a while to get used to, so don’t rush it — take it slow and steady, and it will be more enjoyable (and safer) for each party.

Human papillomavirus

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually-transmitted infection that, if left untreated, can lead to cancers of the anus, penis, and throat in men and cervical cancer in women.

Gay couples and men who have sex with men (MSM) are at higher risk of contracting HPV. This is because they do not receive the benefits of the women’s immunization program that heterosexual men do. Your risk of contracting HPV is increased further if you are living with HIV. It should also be noted that condoms do not necessarily protect you against contracting HPV, as it can also be spread through skin contact on unprotected areas, such as the anus.

Thankfully, HPV is easily prevented through immunization. While those living with HIV or who have more than one sexual partner are most at risk, any MSM (gay or otherwise) should speak to their doctor about receiving the vaccine. This extra precaution 

The problems outlined above are just a few examples that couples can face. But through education and preparation, these can be prevented or solved to ensure you and your partner can enjoy a healthy sex life.