Are problems with your erections or low libido limiting your sex life? For many men, these are inevitable issues of aging. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address them.
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Erection problems are fairly common for men over the age of 50, says Cleveland Clinic urologist Milton Lakin, MD. He says men may be reluctant to discuss these issues with their medical practitioner. Don’t be. Your doctor may not initiate this discussion, so you need to be proactive.
Dr. Lakin recommends these seven tips to enjoy an active sex life long past the age of 50.
1. The pills are very effective
Prescription pills—Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis—are the first-line treatment for erectile dysfunction, and Dr. Lakin says they can be very effective. Your primary care practitioner can prescribe them, and so can a urologist. Don’t be afraid to raise the issue yourself; your doctor has likely had this conversation before.
2. Eat right and exercise
High blood pressure and cholesterol can cause the vascular problems that lead to trouble with your erections. Dr. Lakin says it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and keeping your weight down. Avoiding high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease can hopefully lessen the frequency of erection problems — or at least delay their onset.
Ask your partner what she wants — and tell her what you want.
3. Chronic condition? Check with your doctor
What if you already have an established condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes? Dr. Lakin says the pills can still be effective, but your doctor may want to check your heart. “It’s very important before dispensing these pills that practitioners make sure that heart function is good,” he says. The reason: Problems with erections can indicate other problems such as significant heart disease.
4. Not everyone has Low T
Dr. Lakin is concerned that too many men are being treated for low testosterone. However, he acknowledges that a drop-off in desire can be related to hormones. “When I see patients with erection issues, I do check their testosterone,” he says. “And if I feel that their levels are low enough for me to diagnose them as hypogonadal patients, then I will treat some with testosterone.” It’s important that your doctor investigate and address why you have low testosterone, he adds.
5. Consider counseling
Sexual issues such as low libido and erectile dysfunction may have an emotional component, so psychological counseling may be an option. Men aren’t always receptive, though. His advice: Be willing to consider that there may be a psychological reason behind your sexual troubles. In these cases, counseling may be helpful.
6. Mismatched sex drives? Talk it over
It’s common for couples to have mismatched sex drives. If that’s the case, couples need to speak frankly about what is important to them sexually and try to come to a compromise to meet both of their needs. “Women may want to focus more on intimacy in a sexual relationship, whereas men tend to focus more on the erectile aspects of sexual activity,” he says. In other words, ask your partner what she wants — and tell her what you want.
7. Set aside time for sex
As men age, the stress and pressures of everyday life can create a barrier to sex. Dr. Lakin says it’s important that couples set aside time to nurture the relationship and foster ongoing intimacy.