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Looking To Cure Erectile Dysfunction As An Older Adult?

What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the failure to achieve or sustain an erection. Researchers from the 1994 Massachusetts Male Aging Study found that in a randomized selection of adult men aged 40-70 years, ED affects 52 percent of people. So, this is a common problem, with over half of men who were sexually active in the age range affected. Notably, of all of the factors considered (socio-demographic variables, blood samples, health status, smoking, medication, lifestyle, etc.) in this study, age was the “variable most strongly associated with impotence.” Some curative measures might include:

  • Surgery
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication
  • Treating any existing health problems

Further, a survey published in 2008 entitled: Boston Area Community Health Survey corroborated these findings. This survey found that at age 30-39 years, men have ED at a rate of 10 percent, but at 70-79 years, this number increases to a whopping 59 percent.

So, be encouraged—you’re not alone, and this is a normal part of aging. However, it can be treated and even cured in some cases.

What Can Cause ED?

Along with simply getting older and the normal aging process, there are many other factors that can be the cause of or contribute to ED. Some of these are:

  • Medications, like:
    • Commonly used medications for lowering blood pressure, like diuretics, beta-blockers, and thiazides
    • Commonly used medications for heart arrythmias, or other cardiac conditions
    • Chemotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of cancer
    • Controlled substances used for pain relief, like morphine or other opiates
    • Medications for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

If you think that your medication is causing or has contributed to or worsened your ED symptoms, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. Your doctor may have an alternative medication that you can try or they may be able to lower the dosage. It is very important that you never suddenly stop taking any medication without discussing it with your doctor.

  • Underlying medical conditions, like:
    • Having a high Body Mass Index (BMI), which indicates that you are overweight or obese
    • Diabetes
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Higher than normal levels of cholesterol in your blood (hyperlipidemia)
    • High blood pressure

Many of these health conditions affect the necessary blood flow or nerves needed to get or maintain an erection. Vascular insufficiency, which reduces the normal blood flow to the penis, is a common cause of ED.

  • Decreased testosterone concentrations in the body, which is the hormone responsible for the male sex drive. Testosterone also regulates several other important functions in the body, such as sustaining the tissues that provide the blood supply to the penis. Testosterone levels generally decrease with aging, which leads to a reduced sex drive and might add to scarring in the veins inside of the penis, which results in a reduced blood flow.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) via regular injections, a skin patch, or a gel, if your primary problem causing ED is low testosterone levels.

Treatments for ED

It is important to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your ED treatment, which includes mainstays like a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If you are engaging in or have any of the conditions or habits listed above, stop or limit them. This includes quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, managing your primary health conditions that are contributig to your ED, losing weight, and improving your sleep habits. Some people also consult a sex therapist to improve their sexual desire, which is noninvasive and doesn’t involve doctor visits.

Medications

  • PDE 5 (phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitors
    • These fairly commonly known and used medications (tadalafil, sildenafil, vardenafil, avanafil, etc.) work by relaxing and widening the blood vessels that supply the penis.
    • Note: Research has shown that PDE 5 inhibitors are not safe for people using nitrates to treat heart disease.

Intracavernosal injections

  • There is an injectable medication called Alprostadil that is injected into the penis. This medication, which also comes in a penile suppository, rapidly expands the blood vessels inside the penis within 8-10 minutes, achieving an erection.
  • There are several other medications that can be used in a mixture by your doctor that are also penile injections or suppositories.

Surgery

If nothing else has worked for you, your doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment for your ED, especially is you have a type of ED known as refractory ED. Notably, surgery is often curative, and actually has the highest satisfaction ratings of both the patients and their partners of all of the ED treatments.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line—over half of aging men will experience erectile dysfunction as they get older, but this doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life. There are many treatments and even cures available, but you should always consult your doctor first to rule out any underlying health conditions. Usually, a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes prove to be the cure for ED.

Posted By : Samual H.
On : 10.21.20
Men's Health