Optimal erectile function is attained when a man is healthy, both physically and mentally. And to ensure that good health continues, he should visit his doctor regularly so that his vitals can be checked and the doctor has an opportunity to detect the presence of any symptoms of ill health.
The myth that erectile dysfunction is an unavoidable part of the aging process has been proved false. However, to maintain healthy erectile function well into his golden years, a man must be aware of the early signs of illness so that he can take appropriate care as early as possible.
The primary health concerns vary depending on a man’s age. Younger men, generally defined as those under 40, are more likely to suffer from psychological issues that make it difficult, if not impossible, to get and keep an erection suitable for intercourse. Those same younger men, as well as those in the early years of middle age (41 to 60), should check themselves regularly for signs of testicular cancer. Although prostate health should be monitored in all men regardless of their age, concerns about prostate cancer and benign enlargement of the prostate are greatest among those who are 60 and over.
Certain underlying illnesses sharply increase the risk of ED in men of all ages, and these conditions must be closely monitored and managed to prevent deterioration in erectile function. Such conditions include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and atherosclerosis.
Unhealthy lifestyle decisions, most of which tend to be made when a man is younger, also can sharply increase a man’s risk of ED. The earlier he decides to trade in unhealthy behaviors for those more supportive of good overall health, the better his chances of avoiding irreversible symptoms of ED later in life.
T-Levels Vary with Age
Although it doesn’t play a direct role in the erection process, testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, does have a real effect on sexual desire. Men with lower T-levels may see the hormonal deficiency reflected in a somewhat lackluster libido. And getting an erection in the absence of sexual desire is problematic, to say the least.
T-levels vary widely, even among men in the same age group. And some men, despite low levels of the hormone in their blood, still manage to function sexually without a hitch. However, if you’re experiencing an abrupt and unusual decline in sexual desire, you might want to ask your doctor to authorize a blood test to determine your T-levels. According to Healthline.com, teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 18 can have up to 1,200 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood, the highest T-count of any age. Normal T-levels for young adult males between the ages of 20 and 30 range from 270 to 1,070. For every year past 30, testosterone levels decline by roughly 1 percent.
Long gone are the days when it was believed that virtually all male impotence was psychological in origin. Today it’s estimated that psychological factors, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, account for only 10 to 20 percent of all ED diagnoses. ED of this type is far more common among young men than it is among older men.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from psychogenic ED, ask your regular doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can offer counseling to help you identify the cause of your impotence. Sadly, the popular ED drugs such as Viagra and Cialis don’t treat this form of impotence.
Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
The primary cause of erectile dysfunction is insufficient blood flow to the penis, and unhealthy lifestyle choices, many of which are made at a relatively early age, can hasten the onset of ED symptoms. The earlier these unhealthy behaviors are replaced by those designed to improve your overall health, the better your chances of regaining normal — or at least acceptable — erectile function.
An addiction to fast food or a home-based diet that’s high in unhealthy fats and empty calories can lead to atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaques on the inner walls of arteries. This process over time impedes blood flow not only to the penis but to other organs as well. Additionally, smoking, substance abuse, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise are all behaviors and conditions that can increase your risk of ED.
Although it could conceivably strike at any age, 90 percent of all testicular cancer cases occur in men under the age of 54, according to CancerCenter.com. Other risk factors for this type of cancer include:
- Race and Ethnicity: White men are five times more likely to develop testicular cancer than African-American men and three times more likely to develop the cancer than Asian-American or Native American men. The risk of this cancer in Hispanic men lies somewhere between that of Caucasian men and Asian-American men.
- Family History: Your chances of developing testicular cancer increase slightly if there is a history of the disease in your family.
- Undescended Testicle: Men suffering from cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle) face a greater risk of testicular cancer than other men.
- HIV Infection: Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) increases the risk of testicular cancer, particularly in HIV-infected men who’ve gone on to suffer from AIDS.
- Previous History of This Cancer: Three to 4 percent of men who have suffered from cancer in one testicle are likely to suffer cancer in their other testicle.
Hassles of Old Age
Mature men — those over 60 years of age — generally experience happiness with their lives for the first 10 or 15 years of old age, according to a study conducted by Oregon State University’s Center for Healthy Aging Research. However, things begin to go south after that first decade or so, according to a report on the study by ScienceDaily.com.
Carolyn Aldwin, the study’s lead author, observes: “In general, life gets better as you age in the sense that older adults on average have fewer hassles — and respond to them better — than younger adults. And they also experience more uplifts — a least, until their mid-70s.” Aldwin, a professor of gerontology at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, adds: “But once you turn 70, how you react to these hassles changes and may be dependent on your resources or your situation in life.”
Older men who find it difficult to cope with the “hassles” of later life might also find it difficult to function sexually. As the OSU study suggests, the ability to cope with such hassles depends to a large degree upon an older man’s access to appropriate resources.
“In general, life gets better as you age in the sense that older adults on average have fewer hassles — and respond to them better — than younger adults. And they also experience more uplifts — a least, until their mid-70s. But once you turn 70, how you react to these hassles changes and may be dependent on your resources or your situation in life.”
— Carolyn Aldwin, Professor of Gerontology
College of Public Health and Human Sciences
Oregon State University
Essential Screening Tests
To keep a handle on your overall health, you should regularly undergo the following screening tests:
- Check your weight regularly. A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 to 29.9 indicates you’re overweight, and a reading of 30 or more points to obesity. Visit this National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website to learn how to calculate your BMI.
- A lipids blood test to determine cholesterol levels should be performed every five years after age 35. Tests should begin earlier for those who are diabetic, have a BMI over 30, smoke, have a family history of stroke, or have immediate family members who’ve had a heart attack.
- Monitor blood pressure regularly. If you’ve been diagnosed as hypertensive, you might need to check your BP daily.
- Blood tests to determine glucose levels.
- Colorectal cancer screenings after the age of 50.
- Check your skin regularly for precancerous lesions and undergo a dermatological screening at least once a year.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for men 65 to 75 who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.
- Blood test to determine testosterone levels, particularly for those who experience a noticeable decline in sexual desire.
PDE5 Inhibitors Could Help
For men whose erection problems are caused by insufficient blood flow to the penis, the popular ED drugs are known as PDE5 inhibitors could make it possible to temporarily regain normal erectile function. These drugs, including Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, temporarily sideline an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase-5 that can interfere with optimal blood flow.
If you have a doctor’s prescription for one of these drugs and would like to order it online, consider taking your business to a reliable online facilitator like AccessRx.com. You can fax your prescription or scan and email it along with your order to AccessRx. For men without a prescription, AccessRx can arrange a complimentary online consultation with a member of its team of licensed U.S. physicians who will authorize a prescription if appropriate. To learn more about male impotence, its causes, and the medications available to treat it, click below to reach AccessRx’s Erectile Dysfunction page.