What is Erectile Dysfunction?
An erection involves the brain, nerves, muscles, hormones, and the circulatory system, where these systems collaborate to allow blood flow to erectile tissues in the penis.
Common symptoms of ED include issues with getting or keeping an erection, and reduced libido. While these symptoms might occur occasionally for some people, they are more frequent for others. If the symptoms are occurring only once in a while, then you might not be experiencing ED, as libido is not constant and it is fairly normal to feel a reduced interest in sex from time to time.
But if you experience these more frequently, it’s recommended that you see a doctor to make sure if you are suffering from ED. You can start by getting your hormone levels checked. Your doctor might recommend a blood test as well.
You can also read more about ED here.
Is ED More Common to Certain Age Groups?
While erectile dysfunction is believed to mostly impact men over the age of 55, it has been reported by a large number of younger adults in recent years. Studies conducted in the U.S reveal around 20% to 25% of men experience ED, with higher percentages experienced by men over 55.
Older age groups might experience symptoms of ED due to other health issues like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and forms of cancer. Additionally, risk factors like obesity, smoking, antidepressants, and infrequent exercise also contribute to ED symptoms.
Recent studies have reported an increase in ED among younger adults, largely attributing it to psychogenic factors such as depression, anxiety, and stress in relationships. Consuming steroids for building muscle mass have been linked to ED as well.
So, while there is an overall link between ED and age, our takeaway should be that it is normal for anyone to experience symptoms of ED. The next section helps you better understand the factors that can cause ED across ages.
Hormones and Mental Health - What is the Link?
One of the most common causes behind ED is low testosterone. However, some individuals may experience ED while having normal testosterone levels as well. This is where physical health concerns and medications (as mentioned above), and psycho-social factors become important.
You might want to visit a mental health professional to reflect on your mental health. One of the key symptoms of depression is the loss of interest in activities (including sex). Plus, anxiety, stress, relationship problems, and insomnia commonly contribute to ED, especially among young adults. This is why consulting a therapist or a psychiatrist might help you understand the root of your ED.
How to Move Forward?
Now that we’ve covered what ED is, let’s discuss some practices you can implement for having pleasurable sex despite experiencing ED.
Foreplay, Foreplay, Foreplay!
Yes, you’ve probably seen this tip everywhere, but we can’t not talk about it.
The sexual tension, playfulness, and intimacy play a big role in sustaining an erection. If you hadn’t given much importance to foreplay before, now is the time!
While foreplay commonly includes kissing, mutual masturbation, and oral sex, you can always explore other options. You can start even before meeting your partner in person through sexting. Leaving flirty, suggestive texts to build the tension can do wonders to your sex life!
You can also try out sex toys. Use them by yourself or with your partner(s), and enjoy the moment without worrying about your erection or if you can maintain it.
Sex and Intimacy
While climaxing or getting an erection can be the ‘end goal’ of a sexual experience for many, you must remember that intimacy can be a fulfilling and vulnerable experience by itself. Building trust and holding space for your partner to open up to you about their ED is a vulnerable process, which can also result in increased intimacy.
If you are reading this for your partner, or to educate yourself, we want to remind you that the cause of one’s ED is not linked to their feelings and attraction toward you.
Suppose you are experiencing ED symptoms and would like to communicate this with your partner. In that case, it can be helpful for everyone involved to be open-minded and understand the multiple factors involved. Communication is key, and if this feels difficult, you can reach out to a couples therapist to help guide these conversations.
There is no one-size-solution for everyone; while medication could relieve some aspects or symptoms of ED, it might not help other symptoms. Nevertheless, keep an open mind about oral medications to help treat ED.
Some common oral treatments for ED are Sildenafil (Viagra), Levitra, Cialis, and Stendra. It is important to follow the treatment plan under your healthcare provider and not change the dosage or stop your medication unless your doctor recommends it.
If you are facing any concerns regarding sexual health, don't worry. Rocket Health has you covered every step of the way! Our team of medical professionals will provide you with a safe space to discuss your concerns, devise the right treatment, and maintain confidentiality.
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