It wasn’t too long ago that erectile dysfunction (ED) was believed to be a natural part of aging. Nothing could be further from the truth. Middle age and older men who are healthy and have an opportunity to have sexual intimacy can expect to be successful in the bedroom.
Once taboo, ED has emerged from the shadows, thanks in large part to the widespread media attention give to Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. However, a wide variety of treatment options are now available that provide hope for men of any age suffering from ED symptoms. There simply is no reason to suffer in silence, whatever your age.
Approximately 30 million men in the U.S. suffer from ED. An estimated 50 percent of men at age 50 experience some ED symptoms, and the percentage jumps 10% with each decade in life.
Most men certainly aren’t willing to accept a decline in our eyesight with age—we use glasses when needed. In much the same way, ED is more than a minor inconvenience and can seriously impact quality of life for men and their partners.
Related Health Risks
ED is a medical condition and can be an early warning sign of a much more serious condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels or disease of the blood vessels to the brain, which could lead to stroke. ED symptoms can also be a manifestation of depression. This makes it even more important to pay attention to your ED symptoms.
Aside from these physical symptoms, ED can take a serious toll on your overall well-being and mental health, causing strain on your relationships and unnecessary anguish and stress.
Talk to Your Doctor
Talking to your doctor about your ED symptoms can feel embarrassing or difficult, but there’s no reason to be ashamed or uncomfortable. An active sex life can be just as important to your overall health as is proper nutrition and exercise.
When you visit the doctor, tell him/her about other medical conditions you may have so you can determine whether your ED may be the symptom of a greater problem. Make a separate appointment to discuss ED, to make sure you have enough time to discuss your concerns. Ask for a referral to a urologist, a doctor who specializes in men’s urinary and sexual health issues.
Be sure to discuss the all the possible issues surrounding your ED, the hurdles you face in all areas of sexual function, including your ability to get and keep an erection, sensitivity and other issues that may help pinpoint the root cause.
For many men, oral medications are not only very safe, but also quite effective. Pills such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are effective for about 70% of men. But for those with other health factors, such as cardiac disease, diabetes, oral medication may not be an option, or they may become less effective over time. For these men, there are a number of other treatment options available, including:
- Vacuum pump therapy, which requires the use of a small pump to mechanically enhance blood flow and create an erection. These devices are totally noninvasive, but they can be somewhat awkward to use and not conducive to spontaneity.
- Transurethral suppositories are tiny pellets of medication inserted into the urethra opening – a minimally invasive treatment, but still somewhat uncomfortable. This also requires some advance preparation.
- Injection therapy, while the concept is disturbing to most men at the start, involves the use of a very fine needle to inject medication to produce an erection. Because of both the psychological and physical discomfort, in spite of high levels of effectiveness, many men do not find this to be a long-term solution. About 50% of men who try injections, do not continue their use.
- Penile prosthetic implants are surgical devices concealed within the body that restore erectile function to as near natural as possible and still allow for spontaneity. While the concept itself is nothing new, the devices and implantation procedures have evolved considerably to make the procedure quicker and easier on the patient. While implants carry the same risks associated with any surgery, implant procedures generally have extremely high success rates and provide an effective solution for many men. Implants may not be for everyone, but they are a viable option to restore erectile function for most men over the age of 50, and they carry a very high satisfaction rate among patients and partners.
Choosing a treatment that’s right for you depends on a number of factors, including your relationship status, the importance and level of physical intimacy required, and other health issues. Ask your doctor about the success rate and risks with each option and about what you can reasonably expect in the form of results. It’s unlikely that any treatment will restore erectile function back to the way it was in your younger years, especially with advanced age, but ED treatment can allow all men to enjoy and active and satisfying sex life well into their golden years.
No matter what your age, it’s important to take that first step and talk to your doctor about ED symptoms. It’s never “normal” at any age to not have normal sexual function. With the wide variety of treatment options available, there’s no longer any reason to ignore the problem as a fact of life.
Bottom Line: ED is not a natural consequence of aging. Help is available and no one needs to suffer the tragedy of the bedroom.