Even if your health is good, the ability to achieve and maintain erections decreases as you age. This requires proper medical treatment.
As erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse, some people may assume ED increases with age.
The fact is that the inability to maintain an erection isn’t always age-related. Aging doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to develop ED indefinitely. While age can raise the risk for ED, there are ways to treat it.
When erectile dysfunction happens?
Male sexual arousal may seem simple, but it depends on a precise, complex sequence of events inside the body.
The brain activates nerves in the penis to relax muscles in the spongy tissues that run the length of the penis. When these muscles relax, blood can flow in from arteries to fill open spaces in the spongy tissue.
Increased blood pressure expands the penis. Membranes around the spongy tissue sustain the erection.
Anything interrupting this sequence can result in the inability to have or keep an erection long enough for sexual intercourse.
Hope, no matter your age
ED is often associated with getting older. Although ED’s frequency does increase with age, it’s treatable regardless of your age and isn’t as inevitable as you might think.
In fact, ED can have many causes not associated with aging.
Medical Сauses of ED
There are many physical causes of ED. Anyone of these can disrupt the sequence of physiological changes that produce an erection:
- heart disease;
- hypertension (high blood pressure);
- high cholesterol;
- low testosterone;
- enlarged prostate;
- sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea;
- multiple sclerosis;
- Parkinson’s disease.
The hormone testosterone affects a person’s sex drive and energy levels, which govern arousal impulses to the brain.
Diabetes can also damage the nerves that signal increased blood flow to the genital area.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a man with type 2 diabetes is twice as likely to have low testosterone compared to a man that doesn’t have diabetes.
Your doctor can test for nerve damage related to diabetes and low testosterone. Also, any constriction of blood flow from heart disease and artery blockages would hamper an erection.
Other Causes of ED
ED isn’t necessarily related to age or chronic illnesses. Other common causes include:
- heavy alcohol consumption;
- tobacco use;
- prescription medications;
- performance anxiety;
Alcohol slows nerve communications within the brain and throughout the body, which can affect arousal signals and physical coordination.
Tobacco not only restricts blood flow but can lead to serious diseases that may further impair sexual function.
Medications can also affect people differently. A drug that decreases sexual performance in one person might not in another.
Psychological and emotional stressors can also inhibit sexual arousal.
Consult your doctor to learn if your erectile dysfunction is temporary or it requires medical treatment.