Erectile Dysfunction or Normal Aging?

If you struggle to get and keep an erection, this can impact more than just your sex life. It can do a number on your confidence and self-esteem as well. Difficulty maintaining an erection can occur for a variety of reasons, and you don’t necessarily have to be old for it to happen. 

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition that affects close to 30 million American men. While it does occur more commonly in older men, anyone can develop the condition. At any age, you don’t have to accept it and live as if the sexual aspect of your life is over. 

Mike Hsieh, MD, is a skilled, board-certified urologist who serves as the director of the Men's Health Center at the University of California, San Diego. In his private practice in La Jolla, California, he routinely helps men of all ages who struggle with ED. 

He and his team can diagnose the cause of your ED and tailor a treatment plan to help you take control of your sex life again. Here’s what Dr. Hsieh wants men to know about erectile dysfunction, aging, and the treatments that are available. 

How erections occur

Sexual arousal is a complex phenomenon that involves both mental and physical aspects. Sexual arousal increases the blood flow to your genitals, which engorges the spongy tissue inside your penis. This is what actually causes a physical reaction known as an erection.

Normal, healthy erections are easily firm enough for penetrative sex and can last as long as necessary to complete the sexual encounter. An occasional problem with maintaining an erection can be normal, and it’s often caused by temporary conditions, such as stress. 

When this struggle becomes a frequent occurrence, you may be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. 

Age and erections

There is a link between aging and ED. A natural result of aging is declining testosterone production. Testosterone is the male hormone that controls sexual function, as well as some other distinctly male characteristics. 

As testosterone declines, your risk of ED increases. Studies show that about 5% of men in their 40s struggle with ED, and the percentage grows to 15% by the time you reach your 70s.  

However, there is no reason for you to simply accept ED as a natural consequence of aging. Low testosterone is a medical condition that can be treated. In fact, treating your low testosterone can help with ED, hair loss, low sex drive, and even weight gain. 

Treating your ED 

Above all else, having problems with achieving and maintaining erections is no reason to feel ashamed. Dr. Hsieh can diagnose the underlying cause of your ED and recommend treatment that fits your lifestyle and health condition.

Some preexisting health issues can also contribute to ED, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Managing these conditions well can also improve your struggle with ED. Dr. Hsieh can diagnose these conditions and help you manage them effectively, if necessary. 

There are oral medications that can be taken before sexual activity to increase blood flow and help you overcome symptoms of ED. If you have low testosterone, Dr. Hsieh may suggest hormone replacement therapy to balance hormone levels. This is often a very effective way to manage the symptoms of ED.

Don’t let ED define how you live your life, even in your older years. Contact the office of Dr. Hsieh in La Jolla, California, at 858-216-2771 or send an online message with your questions or concerns. 

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