Having learned a great deal more about erectile dysfunction including its risk factors and causes, you should be equipped to assess your own erectile function. If you have experienced erectile issues or you have some of the risk factors mentioned above, it may be worth making a trip to your doctor’s office. If you choose to seek help, give your doctor as much information as you can about your symptoms including their frequency and severity as well as the onset. With your doctor’s help, you can determine the best course of treatment to restore sexual function.
Options: If you are taking an H2 blocker for GERD or other reflux problems — and H2 blockers, with the exception of cimetidine, are the treatment of choice for older people — changes in your diet and sleep habits may be helpful. Some of my patients have reported success with the home remedy of apple cider vinegar and honey (one tablespoon of each in a glass of water), taken throughout the day, along with melatonin at bedtime.
There are many medications that may cause erectile dysfunction (ED); one-quarter of erectile dysfunction cases may be caused by medications. Of the 12 most commonly prescribed medications, 8 of them list erectile dysfunction as a possible side effect. If you have erectile dysfunction, your doctor will review all prescription and non-prescription medications in addition to asking about other risk factors, such as heart disease, smoking or obesity.
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Cardiovascular diseases account for nearly half of all cases of erectile dysfunction in men older than 50 years. Cardiovascular causes include those that affect arteries and veins. Damage to arteries that bring blood flow into the penis may occur from hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or trauma to the pelvis/perineum (for example, pelvic fracture, long-distance bicycle riding).
Options: Many patients with mild anxiety or insomnia don’t need benzodiazepines at all. And for all the conditions listed above, there are alternative drug and nondrug treatments. Melatonin, in doses from 3 milligrams to 10 milligrams before bedtime, for instance, sometimes helps to reestablish healthy sleep patterns. Elderly people should never use diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or any sleep aid with a name ending in “PM.” Talk with your doctor or other health care provider.
As a primary care doctor, my most important job is to tailor treatment for my patients while still making decisions based on the medical literature. So when patients tell me their treatment is causing undesired side effects—like ED—I work with them to create a plan to treat the condition while also finding a way to relieve those side effects. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with medically induced ED.
Aging: There are two reasons why older men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than younger men. First, older men are more likely to develop diseases (such as heart attacks, angina, cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes mellitus, and high blood pressure) that are associated with erectile dysfunction. Second, the aging process alone can cause erectile dysfunction in some men by causing changes in the muscle and tissue within the penis.
As you can imagine, these symptoms can make it difficult to take pleasure in much of anything, let alone sex. A study published in a 1998 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine shows a clear link between depression and erectile dysfunction in men. Using data obtained from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, researchers were able to conclude that a relationship between depressive symptoms and erectile dysfunction existed and was independent of aging and demographics.

Psychotherapy sessions can help you learn to deal with anxiety, both in and out of the bedroom. Sometimes, therapy sessions are "as simple as helping couples understand what happens in typical couples’ sex lives. Couples therapy can also include learning to talk about sex in ways that help them let down their defenses and openly discuss their needs, wants, and desires," says Connolly.


While you shouldn’t stop taking prescribed medications without consulting your healthcare provider, you can have a discussion about whether a particular drug is necessary in the first place, suggests Mills. “For blood pressure medications and antidepressants, there are alternatives that most physicians know to prescribe if the man is having ED,” he says.
It can be embarrassing to talk to your doctor about your sex life, but it's the best way to get treated and get back to being intimate with your partner. Your doctor can pinpoint the source of the problem and may recommend lifestyle interventions like quitting smoking or losing weight. Other treatment options may include ED drugs, hormone treatments, a suction device that helps create an erection, or counseling.
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