Justin Lehmiller authored this article.
Penises don’t always work the way we want them to. Over the course of a man’s life, he will occasionally experience erections at inconvenient or undesirable times, and he will occasionally be unable to get an erection when he wants one.
All of this is perfectly normal.
The age of penises can have an impact on how they behave with their owners. Specifically, when men are younger, they tend to have more of the unwanted kind—you know, the erections that pop up in the middle of, say, school or religious services.
These experiences are less common as men age, while the ability to erection on demand becomes more common. This is known as a “sex problem” if it becomes a constant issue that gets in the way of your sex lives. erectile dysfunction.
What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as erectile dysfunction, is defined by the DSM-5. erectile disorderIf one is unable to erection enough for partner sex, it is called a (). The symptoms must be present for at least 75% of the time one attempts to have sex. It must also contribute to psychological distress or create problems in relationships.
As you can see, the bar is set pretty high—and that’s precisely because it’s normal to have occasional erectile issues.
How old does erectile dysfunction usually occur?
Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, but it is more common in older men, particularly those over 65.
According to An English study that is nationally representative On sexual difficulties, less than 10% of men below the age of 44 experience erectile dysfunction. This number rises to 13% in men aged 45-54, 23.5% in those 55-64, and 30 percent for men 65-plus.
There are many factors that can affect the severity of erectile dysfunction. One person may have an inability to erection. Others may still experience erections occasionally or in limited situations. Or, their erections might not be as strong as they once were.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
Multiple causes can lead to erectile dysfunction. As with most sexual difficulties, there are many factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
When erectile dysfunction occurs at a younger age, it’s more likely to have a psychological (e.g., performance anxiety, stress) or relational basis (e.g., partner conflict). In older age, however, it is more common to have physical causes.
Erectile problems can be caused by many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions that affect blood flow or cardiovascular function. But, erectile dysfunction can also be negatively affected by long-term obesity, smoking, long-term alcohol abuse, and hormonal disorders (e.g., reduced testosterone) or medication side effects.
To Fix the Problem, It’s Important to Identify the Source
To address erectile problems, it is important to identify the root cause. A thorough medical examination by your healthcare provider is the best way to determine the cause. So, if you’re experiencing persistent erectile issues, see your doctor. Not only is this important for diagnosing the problem but it can also be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Early warning signs of heart disease.
That said, a handy way to tell if the issue might be more physical vs. psychological is whether you’re still getting erections at night. Men tend to get erections at night. 4-5 erections per night as they enter certain sleep cycles, which is why men often wake up with “morning wood.” If you’ve noticed that you no longer seem to get erections at night and you’re not getting them during waking hours either, that’s usually a good indicator of a primarily physical cause.
However, if you’re still getting night-time erections, you can usually get erections when you masturbate, and erection difficulty seems tied to certain partners or sexual situations, that’s usually more indicative of a psychological cause.
These are self-help tips for getting erections as you age
Older men who develop erectile issues are definitely not alone—this is a common experience, and the older you get, the more likely you are to experience this. Fortunately, however, it’s quite treatable.
There are a lot of things men can do on their own—and/or with their partners—to improve erectile function; however, these self-help tips are likely to be more helpful for those who have less serious cases and who are otherwise reasonably healthy.
First, lifestyle changes may help improve erection strength. Research has proven this. Erectile dysfunction can sometimes be reversed with a combination diet and exercise. This means that you can improve your penile health by improving your physical health.
Consider the role of alcohol and tobacco as part of your lifestyle changes. It can help improve erection quality by quitting smoking or cutting down on alcohol. While many people use alcohol in particular as an aphrodisiac, it’s important to recognize that when consumed in large quantities, alcohol can make erections harder to get and maintain.
A second option is mindfulness training which can be a stress-management tool. Research has proven this. Situational erectile dysfunction can be improved by learning to tune in to your senses and tune away distractions.
Lastly, don’t hide the issue from your partner. It can lead to withdrawal or conflict, which could worsen the situation. It is possible to work together on a solution if your partner comes along. For older men especially, this might involve spending more time to build arousal, incorporating more novel activities that heighten sexual excitement, using sexual toys or aides that can make it easier to maintain an erection (such as cock rings or penis pumps), or exploring different ways of being sexual and intimate together when the penis isn’t doing what you want it to.
When Self-Help Isn’t Enough
Self-help is where a lot of men start, but it’s not always enough, depending on the cause of their erectile issues and how serious they are.
Sometimes medication is the best option. Many pills are available to help you get and keep erections. The most popular is sildenafil (Viagra). There are many other options, some with longer-lasting effects, and others that have different side effects. It’s important to talk to your doctor to find out which one is right for you.
Some injectable drugs can also have the same effects as these medications but provide a nearly instantaneous erection. Although this option is effective for some men it comes with a higher risk of infection. Prapism (a painful erection that won’t go away on its own after a couple of hours, which is a medical emergency that requires urgent treatment).
A medical remedy is often testosterone replacement. Erectile problems can be caused by declining testosterone levels as men age. It is sometimes possible to use testosterone replacement as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, either in isolation or with other methods.
Penile implants are an option if all else fails. This is a last-line treatment that is only used when no other options work or impossible erections. You can choose from an inflatable mechanism to make it easy to go from flaccid or erect, as well as bendable rods that keep the penis firm.
Erectile problems are common and become more frequent as we age, particularly for those in the 65+ group. There are many solutions available. It is important that you work with your healthcare provider in order to determine the root cause of persistent erectile problems so that you can get the best treatment.
Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist and research fellow at The Kinsey Institute, is Dr. Justin Lehmiller. He is an award-winning educator who has been awarded three times the Certificate of Teaching Excellence by Harvard University. Dr. Lehmiller has published more than 50 academic works, including a textbook titled “The Psychology of Human Sexuality” that is used in college classrooms around the world. Through his Sex and Psychology blog and workshops, Lehmiller helps people to maintain healthy intimate relationships.