anonymous on September 12, 2011

I’m a 70-year-old with a high libido and a body that doesn’t cooperate. What can I do?

I'm 70, and I still have the hots for my wife. But my mind and body aren't in synch like they used to be. My erections come and go – both before and during sex. Do you have any ideas for how to handle these unexpected interruptions?

answered by David Sobel, MD, JD on September 12, 2011

I appreciate your question because it’s common for men to experience unreliable erections as they age, including difficulty in getting and keeping an erection.

Sometimes erectile dysfunction (ED) is age related…but sometimes a medical problem could be the cause. While your unpredictable erections may be a natural result of getting older, other health issues that include heart disease and diabetes can also affect a man’s ability to get or keep and erection.

That’s why I would encourage you to talk with your doctor about your symptoms and the possibility of taking Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. You’ve probably heard of the most famous brand of these drugs (Viagra), but there are others on the market, too. The fact that you have a responsive and interested partner makes you a great candidate for this type of medication.

Other treatment options you can speak with your doctor about are vacuum constriction devices, MUSE (medicated urethral suppository for erection), penile infection therapy and the placement of a penile prosthesis.

That said, there are some tricks to help yourself achieve erection as you age. For one, be careful not to make things worse by focusing on these unexpected interruptions. Typically, when men label an interruption a "failure," and worry about it happening again, they’re likely to develop a "fear of failure" that can actually interfere with getting or keeping an erection. In other words, try to avoid a vicious cycle.

I hope this information helps you to understand your options, and that you’ll follow up with your doctor or urologist for a more in-depth conversation about what’s best for you.

Related info:

David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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