Is erectile dysfunction (ED) just part of aging?
Not necessarily. It is true that a man’s risk for erectile dysfunction (ED) increases as he gets older, but lots of older men still have rigid enough erections and satisfying sex.
Men can develop ED at any age. Often, ED is a sign of other health issues, like diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, and medication side effects are other known causes.
However, it’s common – and normal – for erections to change as a man gets older. He might find that he needs more time and stimulation to become aroused. His erections might not be as rigid as they were when he was younger, or they might not last as long as they used to.
Changes in erections aren’t always a disadvantage. Needing more time or stimulation can give couples the opportunity for more intimate sharing. They might discover other sexual activities that are exciting.
Declining testosterone levels at midlife can be partially responsible for changing erections.
In some men, as they age, their testosterone levels gradually decline. Some people call this situation “male menopause,” or andropause, but the decrease is subtle compared to what women experience during menopause. Men’s testosterone levels can drop about 1% each year starting around age 30.
Still, testosterone is an important hormone for erections, and low testosterone can be a cause of ED. “Low T” has also been linked to diminished sex drive, weakness, fatigue, and moodiness. Testosterone replacement therapy can help, but men should always check with their doctor before starting any testosterone treatment.
If you are having trouble with erections, see your doctor for a checkup. As mentioned above, ED is often caused by underlying health conditions like diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Treating such conditions is important for your overall health, and you’ll likely see your erections improve. Sometimes lifestyle changes, like exercising, losing weight or quitting smoking, improve erectile function.
And if you don’t have an underlying health problem, it will be good to rule that out.
Keep in mind that there are several treatments available for ED, including medications, suppositories, intracavernous injections, vacuum devices, and penile implant procedures. Not all treatments are appropriate for all men, but chances are, there are options for you.
- Healthline.com - “Erectile Dysfunction and Your Age: Is It Inevitable?”
Hoppe, Jane and Kristeen Cherney
(September 27, 2018)
- Psychology Today - “Erection Changes After 50: The Facts”
Castleman, Michael, MA
(May 1, 2012)
- SexHealthMatters.org - “A Man’s Penis Changes with Age”
(April 8, 2015)
- “Sex for Men After 50"
(October 30, 2013)