Erectile dysfunction is often associated with aging. But aging is not the only cause, and there may be something you can do about it.
By Dawn Flemming
Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common chronic diseases that effects elderly men as they age. Erectile dysfunction or ED is the inability to get or hold an erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse.
The prevalence of ED increases as men age. Less than 5% of men experience complete ED in their 50s whereas the numbers increase to over 15% for men in their 60s where there is complete loss of function.
The good news is that not all seniors get ED and not all causes of ED are age-related. In fact, most of its causes seem to be non-related to age. Healthline lists the following reasons for ED:
hypertension (high blood pressure)
sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
You will notice in the above that many of these problems are diet related. Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves thereby restricting blood flow to the penis. Low testosterone can lead to low arousal and thereby ED. Heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can also affect the blood flow to the penis.
Although this is not flattering, the good news is that through diet and exercise, most of the above can be treated, including low testosterone.
Healthline gives us other reasons for ED:
heavy alcohol consumption
use prescription medications
Alcohol negatively affects the communication between the brain and the genitals thereby leading to ED. Tobacco can restrict blood flow to the penis. Depression and anxiety can lower testosterone thereby affecting a person’s libido.
If you are taking antidepressant medications, know that SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) you may also experience ED. Although SSRI’s help balance one’s mood, they also decrease libido and lead to ED. Some studies suggest that up to 80% of people taking antidepressants may experience ED.
There isn’t always a cure for ED. But losing weight, exercising, quitting unhealthy foods and habits like smoking as well as trying to manage stress and anxiety through non-medical ways (or switching to different medications) and, finally, improving your relationship with your partner may help with ED.
Before you try anything, make sure to consult with your doctor first.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.