Men’s Health Part 1 – Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to get and/or keep an erection that allows sexual activity with penetration. It is not a disease, but a symptom of some other problem, either physical or psychological or a mixture of both.

How common is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is very common and becomes more common as men age.

An Australian survey showed that at least one in five men over the age of 40 years has erectile problems and about one in ten men are completely unable to have erections.

With each increasing decade of age, the chance of having erectile problems increases.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Often erectile dysfunction is a sign of another serious health problem that may be undiagnosed such as diabetes or heart disease. Sometimes there is no clear reason for the erectile dysfunction and a more thorough clinical history and examinations may be necessary.

Is erectile dysfunction just part of getting old?

There is no doubt that the muscle cells in the ageing penis are less responsive, interfering with getting and keeping good erections. Like the rest of the ageing body, muscle tone in the penis reduces with age, as do many other aspects of sexual function. It can take longer for a man to get fully aroused. It may take much longer before a second erection happens compared to when the man was younger, and usually the erection is not as firm.

How is erectile dysfunction treated?

For most men, erectile dysfunction cannot be cured; for some there may be a reversible underlying cause. For this reason, it is important to assess all men with erectile problems to see if there is a treatable cause.

Fortunately there are treatments that will allow erections to happen and can be used to allow sexual activity to take place. There are three main types of treatments: tablet medicines and external devices (e.g. vacuum device); penile injections; or for men who have not had success with other treatments, surgery may be an option.

We will discuss with you all the types of treatment so that you will know about the options available.

Is counselling important for treating erectile dysfunction?

Psychosocial problems are important and may cause erectile dysfunction by themselves or together with other causes of erectile dysfunction, such as diabetes and heart disease. Relationships are complicated and many factors cause tensions, which can affect sexual relations.

Man in blue shirt looking into camera

Is sex important to older men?

It is common for a healthy older man to still want sex and be able to have sex within appropriate limitations. Understanding what is normal in older age is important to avoid frustration and concern.

Can I do anything to prevent erectile dysfunction?

Although not proven, it is likely that erectile dysfunction can be prevented by good general health, paying particular attention to body weight, exercise, and cigarette smoking. Early diagnosis and treatment of associated conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol may prevent or delay erectile dysfunction, or stop the erectile dysfunction from getting more serious.

For more online information visit Andrology Australia

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns please speak to your local doctor!

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