Q: I am a 62 year old and recently married. What a surprise when I learned that over 60% of men over 60 have ED problems. Not having had sex in over 10 years, I was SHOCKED. Is this true for over 60% of all males or was my doctor pulling my chain?
A: Erectile Dysfunction (inability to have an erection strong enough or lasting long enough) is a fact of life for men, especially as they age. However, don’t think God was unfair to us and kinder to the fairer sex. I personally wouldn’t trade our problems with theirs as they go through menopause and afterward.
If a man lives long enough, he will at some point have difficulty with E.D. That problem may be short-lived (situational) and in most men can be helped considerably either with pharmaceuticals or with a vacuum device that deploys an O-ring. Interestingly, not being able to have an erection doesn’t mean that he can’t have an orgasm. If you think about it, an erection efficiently transports sperm from the man into the woman’s body so that they can fertilize an egg. It is not essential to achieving orgasm for the male, though it can and does aid orgasm by creating a larger area to be stimulated than when the man is flaccid. Also, an erection can be pleasurable to the wife as the erect penis stimulates the nerve endings inside the vagina, and, aid her orgasm through that process as well as possibly creating more friction for the clitoris. (It is common for a couple not to have enough clitoral stimulation via penile penetration to cause the wife to orgasm.)
Therefore, if a couple is inventive and not hung up on traditional intercourse — and the man’s ego isn’t diminished by ED — a man’s lack of an erection does not necessarily preclude his or her orgasm. She can still stimulate him and he can still stimulate her to orgasm through inventive and fun sexual activity. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen but if both he and she forgot about erection and concentrated on pleasing each other in other ways, it often could.
Now to the specifics of your question. In 2003 Arizona Central reported on a study of erections. That article states “Less than 2 percent of the men reporting problems said those problems had occurred before the age of 40, while 4 percent had problems between the ages of 40 and 49. After 50, however, problems increased substantially, with 26 percent of men reporting difficulty between 50 and 59, 40 percent noting it between 60 and 69, and 61 percent of men over 70 saying it was a problem.” Because one study doesn’t always reach the same conclusion as another study, your doc may be right from the perspective of which study he read. The one thing that is true regardless of which study one cites is that as men age there will be more episodes of erectile dysfunction. (See the article here.)
However, as already pointed out, that doesn’t mean there has to be a decrease in sexual activity and enjoyment. Also, the Arizona Central article went on to say that when men exercise and take care of their bodies, they significantly decrease ED problems. Watching TV a lot, smoking, drinking, and being overweight are factors that increase the chance of ED problems. So if you want to avoid ED, quit drinking, smoking, and overeating; get off the sofa, stretch, and then take a good walk every day until you are back to your vigorous self.