He’s 77. She’s 72. They’re Still Enjoying Sex!

THE ABCs OF ED

Learn more now about ED from Dr. Kadee Thompson, a urologist at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, CA, whose practice focuses primarily on men’s sexual challenges and complex urinary conditions.

ED And Its Causes

        Dr. Kadee Thompson

ED is the difficulty achieving or maintaining a healthy erection, which affects about 39M men in the United States. It encompasses men who have never had erections, occasionally have erections, or have a hard time achieving erections. Some patients have mild ED and others have severe ED and are never able to achieve even partial erections.

Unfortunately, age tends to diminish sexual function in all animal species and research shows that men may begin to notice a gradual decline in sexual function after 40. About 50 percent of men at the age of 40 and 70 percent of men at the age of 70 have some form of ED. Studies show that up to 70 percent of men may have untreated erectile dysfunction because they fail to identify or share their concerns about their sexual functions.

There are several different causes of ED but the primary source is decreased blood flow to the pelvic area, which can result in diminished frequency of erections, strength of erections and duration of the erections. ED can be accelerated by conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure. Any type of prostate cancer treatment, including radiation and surgery, can create sexual side effects because they can injure the nerves that stimulate erection and the arteries which allow blood flow to create the erection.

{A note from Harvey, who had a penile implant after trying drugs, pumps and injections to help his ED: “Many men with ED give up on sex, especially those who’ve had their prostates removed, “They’re down in the dumps because of their urination leakage and inability to have sex normally, so they don’t stop to think that their sex lives can ever be normal again. They can be”}

Men Don’t Talk & Relationships Suffer

Erections aren’t just about sex for a man. Healthy erections contribute to a man’s sense of confidence, wholeness, and masculinity. When a man’s erections are impacted negatively, he struggles with how it influences his identity. And, if he has a partner with whom he wishes to be intimate, the partner’s presence is a constant reminder that he’s not able to perform well. Many men tend to pull away from their partners and become isolated. They fear failure and put up a barrier to intimacy.

ED wouldn’t be such a stigma if men didn’t so closely identify their manhood with their sexuality. But it’s interesting to see the large percentage of men under 65 whose spouses have prompted them to seek help. Men over 65 years old are more likely to be aware of their mortality and to come in on their own. Perhaps they can more easily take a more proactive approach because they’ve had enough challenges with their health.

When a man is ready to discuss his ED with a healthcare provider he should look for one who brings the best expertise and rapport to the table, even if it’s a woman!  My job is to acknowledge the importance of sexual intimacy in his relationship and the distress ED can cause, as well as to destigmatize it by explaining how normal and common it is.  Once he feels at ease, I can discuss the treatment options to help him and his partner regain a healthy and happy sex life.

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