Are problems with your erections or low libido putting a damper on your sex life?
These issues are fairly common in men over age 50, says psychologist Dana Brendza, PsyD. But this doesn’t mean you can’t work against them.
The first step: Talk to your doctor. It’s unlikely your medical practitioner will initiate this conversation so you need to bring up this topic.
Here are other tips to enjoy an active sex life long past the age of 50:
1. Consider medication
Prescription pills — Viagra®, Levitra®, or Cialis® — are the first-line treatment for erectile dysfunction, and they can be very effective. Your primary care doctor can prescribe them, and so can a urologist.
2. Watch your waistline
High blood pressure and cholesterol can cause the vascular problems that lead to trouble with your erections. It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and keeping your weight down.
Avoiding high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease may lessen the frequency of erection problems — or at least delay their onset.
3. Get your heart checked if needed
What if you already have an established condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes? Pills can still be effective, but your doctor may want to check your heart.
“It’s very important before dispensing these pills that practitioners make sure that heart function is good,” Dr. Brendza says. The reason: Problems with erections can indicate other problems, such as significant heart disease.
4. Don’t assume it’s low testosterone
Many experts are concerned too many men are being treated for low testosterone. However, a drop-off in desire can be related to hormones. For erection issues, it can be helpful to get your testosterone checked.
“It’s important that your doctor investigate and address why you have low testosterone,” Dr. Brendza says.
5. Consider counseling
Sexual issues such as low libido and erectile dysfunction may have an emotional component, so psychological counseling may be an option.
“It’s important consider the possibility that a psychological issue could be causing your sexual troubles. In these cases, counseling may be helpful,” Dr. Brendza says.
6. Talk to your partner if your sex drives are mismatched
It’s common for couples to have mismatched sex drives. If that’s the case, couples need to speak frankly about what is important to them sexually and try to come to a compromise to meet both of their needs.
“Women may want to focus more on intimacy in a sexual relationship, while men may tend to focus more on the erectile aspects of sexual activity,” Dr. Brendza says.
In other words, ask your partner what she wants — and tell her what you want.
7. Set aside time for sex
As men age, the stress and pressures of everyday life can create a barrier to sex. Dr. Brendza says it’s important that couples set aside time to nurture the relationship and foster ongoing intimacy.