About 40% of men are affected by erectile dysfunction at age 40, and nearly 70% of men are affected by ED when they turn 70.
The most common sexual problem in men as they age is erectile dysfunction (ED). In general, the younger a man is, the better his sexual function will be.
Aside from age, risk factors for developing ED include smoking, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inactive lifestyle, cancer, stroke, and taking certain medications such as antidepressants or beta-blockers.
Psychogenic ED was thought to be the most common cause of ED, however, psychological causes often coexist with physical or functional causes of ED.
Erection problems usually produce a significant psychological and emotional reaction in most men. This is often described as a pattern of anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress that can further interfere with normal sexual performance. This “performance anxiety” needs to be recognized and addressed by a healthcare provider.
There are several areas of the brain involved in sexual behavior and erections. In psychogenic ED, the brain may send messages that prevent (inhibit) erections or psychogenic ED may be related to the body’s response to stressors and the release of chemicals (catecholamines) that tighten the penile muscles, preventing them from relaxing.
Certain feelings can interfere with normal sexual function, including feeling nervous about or self-conscious about sex, feeling stressed either at home or at work or feeling troubled in your current sexual relationship. In these cases, treatment incorporating psychological counseling with you and your sexual partner may be successful. One episode of failure, regardless of cause, may propagate further psychological distress, leading to further erectile failure. Los of desire or interest in sexual activity can be psychological or due to low testosterone levels.
Individuals suffering from psychogenic ED may benefit from psychotherapy, treatment of the ED, or a combination of the two. Also, medications used to treat psychological troubles may cause ED; however, it is best to consult our physician prior to stopping any medications that you are taking.
Does erectile dysfunction mean poor libido?
Erectile dysfunction refers specifically to problems achieving or maintaining an erection. Other forms of male sexual dysfunction include poor libido and problems with ejaculation. Men with erectile dysfunction often have a healthy libido, but their bodies fail to respond in the sexual encounter by producing an erection. Usually, there is a physical basis for the problem.
Can low testosterone (Low-T) cause erectile dysfunction?
While low T isn’t the only cause of erectile dysfunction, the two do seem to be connected. However, the connection between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction is complicated. Researchers believe the two are connected because they both seem to coincide as a man ages. However, some men with low testosterone continue to produce healthy erections.
Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include erections that are too soft for sexual intercourse, erections that last only briefly, and an inability to achieve erections. Men who cannot have or maintain an erection at least 75% of the time that they attempt sex are considered to have erectile dysfunction.
Who gets erectile dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction is more common as men age. According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, about 40% of men experience some degree of inability to have or maintain an erection at age 40 compared with 70% of men at age 70. And the percentage of men with erectile dysfunction increases from 5% to 15% as age increases from 40 to 70 years. Erectile dysfunction can be treated at any age.
Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis: Physical Exam
To diagnose erectile dysfunction, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms and medical history. A complete physical exam is done to detect poor circulation or nerve trouble. The physician will look for abnormalities of the genital area that could cause problems with erections.
Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis: Lab Tests
Many lab tests can be helpful in diagnosing male sexual problems. Measuring testosterone levels can determine whether there is a hormonal imbalance, which is often linked to decreased desire.
These tests may reveal underlying medical causes of ED:
- blood cell counts;
- cholesterol levels;
- blood sugar levels;
- liver function tests.
Reducing Your Risk of Erectile Dysfunction
To reduce your risk of erectile dysfunction, exercise and maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, avoid alcohol and substance abuse, and keep your diabetes under control if you have it.