Though not a normal part of aging per se, erectile dysfunction does affect many older men, most often to those in their 60s. The onset of heart disease is the most common contributor. But lots of other illnesses can cause it. 85% of the time, it is a physical problem such as diabetes, or a lifestyle problem such as smoking or obesity that causes it. In a minority of cases depression, extensive stress, or anxiety are at fault. The treatment must fit the cause.
If it is a lifestyle issue, quitting smoking, and taking part in a weight loss program will be on the agenda. Most patients are familiar with ED drugs. These release nitric oxide into the body which allows for the dilation of blood vessels, including those which feed the penis blood and engorge it, causing an erection. These medications are effective in the majority of cases. In 30% of patients, they don’t work or cause side effects. Also, patients taking certain medications cannot take them.
There are several other treatment options available. The penis pump is one. This is a vacuum tube placed over the penis. Suction is provided by a hand pump, and forces blood into the sex organ causing an erection. Then a tight band is placed on the base to sustain it. Another option is an alprostadil self-injection. This is given at the side or base of the male organ. It can be used on its own, or in combination with ED medication. It produces an erection that will last approximately one hour. The pain the injection causes is generally minor.
Side effects include a prolonged erection and bleeding from the erection site. A urethral suppository is a third option. Using an applicator, a patient can place a tiny alprostadil suppository into the penile opening, inside the urethra. About ten minutes later an erection should form, lasts anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. Side effects include minor bleeding inside the urethra and pain. For treatment-resistant ED there is penile implants, blood vessel surgery, and more. If you have ED, don’t let it go. It may become worse, and harder to treat. What’s more, a serious illness might be causing it. Instead, go to the doctor or see an urologist and get checked out.