Tackling the Myths About Erectile Dysfunction

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Sexuality is a part of our identity and physical intimacy is a big component in intimate relationships. Factor in our natural aging process—it’s never easy. For older men, an issue that becomes more common with age like erectile dysfunction is usually tricky to discuss. It can be embarrassing and is even sometimes seen as a sign that one’s manhood is coming to an end because it is no longer “functioning properly”, but that is far from the truth. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about erectile dysfunction, and we are here to help tackle them. 

Myth: It only affects older men

Erectile dysfunction has always been associated with older men, which makes sense because 70% of men in their 70s have mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. But, it’s important to note that in fact, men of all age groups struggle with erectile dysfunction. Researchers have found that 2-26% of men under the age of 40 are affected by erectile dysfunction, and despite that number seeming low, this age group is often ignored and mistreated because their age is typically not associated with the condition. If left untreated, however, erectile dysfunction can become a lifelong condition that becomes more difficult to treat as you grow older. 

It’s true that changes in erections are inevitable as men age, often due to age-related diseases or prolonged unhealthy habits, and symptoms are typically more prominent in men over the age of 70, but there is no exact age to pinpoint precisely when a man will experience erectile dysfunction, or if they ever will.

Myth: It is caused by a lack of attraction or intimacy to a partner 

Erectile dysfunction can create insecurities in a relationship or within your partner due to the belief that it is caused by a lack of attraction to a partner. While erectile dysfunction should be looked at on a case-by-case basis, more often than not, impotence has little to do with sexual attraction. As mentioned above, it’s typically caused by physical health issues, medications, or psychological concerns. It’s important to remember, however, that erectile dysfunction doesn’t only affect men; it also affects their partners, so it’s crucial to keep the romance alive. Date nights can not only help reassure your partner but also remind them of your love through quality time.

It is also vital to check in with your partner because men aren’t the only ones going through a transitional period. Older women will also experience a shift in their sex life as they age like their natural lubrication decreasing or lowered self-esteem due to beauty standards when it comes to aging. These factors can make it difficult for women to experience a fulfilled sex life, which is why having open communication with your partner can allow you to understand each other’s emotional and physical needs. Here are some tips to continue to enjoy intimacy at old age.

Myth: It has nothing to do with your overall health

Erectile dysfunction might seem like solely a penis issue, but overall health often plays a significant role in causing erectile dysfunction. The ability to get and maintain an erection is a complicated process that requires a lot more work from the body than many realize. An erection relies on blood vessels to flow to the penis, so conditions that block blood flow like diabetes can be an underlying medical issue that is causing it. 

One of the main reasons senior men are affected by erectile dysfunction is their increased risk of medical issues, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes that can cause erectile dysfunction. A healthy erection requires a strong cardiovascular system with a responsive heart rate, blood flow, and hormonal changes, so certain diseases, like these, can interfere with the body’s natural sexual response. Yet, not many older men don’t view their erectile issues as a sign of a potentially much more serious condition. If impotence is a continuous problem, talk to your doctor to discuss any potential health concerns that might be linked to it.  

Myth: It means saying goodbye to your sex life 

There is no reason that men of all ages shouldn’t enjoy a happy and fulfilling sex life, or reap the many senior health benefits of intimacy. If erectile dysfunction is an issue for you, you can make the right lifestyle improvements to overcome it. There are medications available, like sildenafil, that can help men of various ages maintain an erection for longer. Alternatively, small steps like exercising daily, managing your stress, cutting back on alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking, are all other, effective ways to address erectile dysfunction. 

Intercourse doesn’t just come in the form of sex, elderly couples can also find new and exciting ways to get intimate with each other through the act of oral sex, incorporating sex toys, or even by the simple act of kissing. Learn more about the many benefits of sex for seniors.

Sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction are common issues within seniors but shouldn’t be seen as a reason to give up sex altogether. Erectile dysfunction is complex with various causes and solutions, but you can work with a doctor to find the one that works best for you in order to keep your intimacy fun and satisfying at every age! 

Nurse Next Door is all about informing & empowering seniors & their loved ones, check out The Caring Blog for more articles like this one!

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