Dealing with the frustration of Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction, which is commonly called ED, occurs when a man can no longer get or keep an erection. This, therefore, affects his ability to have sexual intercourse, which can be very frustrating. This problem is really different from other sexually related disorders, such as low sexual desire and problems with ejaculation and orgasm. One would expect, though, that a man who is having this kind of problem might also have a loss of interest in or some anxiety about sex.
DOES AGE MATTER?
Studies that have looked at ED tend to show increasing occurrence of ED as a man gets older. In the United States, approximately five per cent of 40-year-old men and between 15 per cent and 25 per cent of men overall experience ED on a long-term basis. At some point in his life, a man may find that he has a 'false start' and can't get that erection to which he is accustomed. This occasional failure can be due to a variety of reasons, such as extreme fatigue and anxiety and drinking too much alcohol. Failure to achieve an erection more than 20 per cent of the time is not unusual and does not require treatment.
WHAT CAUSES ED?
In order to get an erection, the following conditions must be met:
- The nerves to the penis must be working properly.
- There must be good blood flowing into the penis from the artery.
- The veins in the penis must be able to keep the blood inside the penis.
- There must be some kind of stimulus from the brain.
Anything that interferes with any of these conditions will interfere with your erection.
Over age 50, a man may experience a number of things that put him at risk of ED. Atherosclerosis or hardening of the artery of the penis is one such problem. Ageing contributes to this hardening but conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and cigarette smoking will all speed it up.
Nerve diseases, stress and depression in these later years also play a role and so, too, can some medications. One study done among diabetic men attending clinics in Jamaica, and published in the Journal of Diabetology last year, showed that ED was very common and increased in severity with age. It was identified in 36 per cent of these diabetics 50-59 years and was as high as 90 per cent in the 70-75 years age group.
HOW IS ED TREATED?
The first step if you suspect you have ED should be a check-up and evaluation by your doctor.
Treatment may include one or more of a number of approaches. Oral medications such as Viagra and Cialis can be used, but not without prescription and medical advice. As such, medications are not recommended if you have certain conditions. There may also be a role for sex therapy, injections in the penis, special pumps, and surgery. It's important to work closely with your doctor to get the best recommendation in your particular case.
If you are 50 and over, keeping fit, managing stress, having a balanced lifestyle and managing chronic diseases will go a long way to help reduce your risk for ED.