The National Institute of Health estimates that between 15 to 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction. It occurs more frequently for men over 75 but it can happen to men of any age.
WebMD offers this list of possible factors that can lead to erectile dysfunction:
- Heart problems, such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis
- Diabetes — between 35% and 50% of men with diabetes experience ED
- A variety of prescription drugs, including medications for blood pressure, anxiety, and depression
- Neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Hormonal imbalances
- Mood or emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol
- Certain types of prostate and bladder surgery
My first piece of advice for anyone experiencing erectile dysfunction is to see a doctor. I’m not qualified to talk about the medical aspects; I want to offer some suggestions on how to have a satisfactory, if not outstanding, sex life when your partner experiences an inability to have an erection.
At some point in your sexual relationships with an older man you’re likely to encounter a time when he cannot get an erection, or the erection is not firm enough for intercourse. The first thing to remember is that men, in general, are so very “penis” focused that this is likely to be a major concern for him. The challenge for you is to handle this incident delicately and without adding extra pressure. I do not advise making some comment about his youthful days or how some young stud might come in handy right about now!
If the two of you communicate well this is a great time to start a conversation about your sex life and how aging affects both of you. Talk about alternative ways to pleasure each other.
If you’re already in the relationship and this happens you’re going to be a little surprised. If this is your first time for sex and it happens, he may have failed to reveal an ongoing issue and may (or should) offer guidance on how to proceed or have ideas on redirecting the sexual experience. (And shame on him for not talking about the ED before you got that far.)
Erectile issues can be handled in a couple of ways:
- Substitute manual or oral stimulation to bring him to orgasm-ejaculation. This can be fun and a nice complement to his giving you oral pleasure. Envision this as a sequence: you start with kissing and playing that leads to him focusing on you. He gives you oral sex or uses fingers and/or a sex toy (a great combination) to bring you to orgasm. You then begin to caress his body. Using a lubricant, begin to stroke his penis and see how hard he gets. If he’s hard enough for intercourse, try it, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t stay hard enough. Gently switch focus and move on without making an issue of it. You can ask what he’d like or just take charge. Find a position that suits you and bring him to completion orally or manually. He’ll be so pleased that he’ll likely forget any issues. A “spent” man is a happy man.
- You can buy a cock ring (hate that name!). It’s designed to be placed on the penis—it slides down to the base and constricts the penis, helping him maintain a firmer erection. There are rings designed to vibrate and bring pleasure to both partners or basic models that simply squeeze/constrict (here’s a good explanation of the different types).
- The other alternative is to look into prescription drugs. Viagra, Cialis or Levitra are prescribed for erectile issues. If you’re looking for a one-time, get-it-hard pill then you want Viagra. If you’re in an ongoing relationship and want help with erections, Cialis and Levitra help with blood flow. They do not spontaneously bring on an erection—they simply make the erection harder and longer lasting. The desire for sex has to be present.
I think a woman has to step up and help to create the right environment when her partner begins to experience difficulties with erections or develops ED. Technically it is “his problem” but in a good sexual relationship, his problem or challenge becomes yours as well.
And, if we’re being honest here, just between us women, the erectile problems can shift the focus of a sexual relationship from intercourse-driven to something more satisfactory for you. Your job is to help your partner feel OK with this change and show him that pleasuring you in other ways is perfectly acceptable and welcomed. This can open the door to more creative sex through exploration, and to a deepening of your relationship.
I realized as I sat down to write, that I’ve already discussed erectile dysfunction (ED) with you on betterafter50.com. But the topic is one of huge significance, so I was happy to take a second look.
Next week I’ll talk about the media, its obsession with youth and how that affects our sexual self-image.
Myths and Facts about Erectile Dysfunction from WebMD