Ageing, love and little blue pills: The upside of asking for help when it comes to ED

Oct 02, 2023
Men go to the doctor when their hand doesn't work, why not for ED? Source: Getty

My mate Jim made a big announcement at golf on Tuesday morning.

“I woke up with an erection this morning,’’ he proclaimed to Ron, Mark and myself.

“That’s pretty good for a bloke who is 70.’’

Honestly, I didn’t know whether to pat him on the back, cheer for him, or just pretend I didn’t hear.

Erections aren’t an everyday topic of conversation between golfing buddies. And by virtue of Jim’s proclamation, I’m going to say that erections aren’t an everyday occurrence for him either.

My brother was the last person to broach the subject with me. About six years ago following a tragic accident, he found himself single again – and back on the dating scene.

He was in his early 60s.

The last time he was dating he was in his teens.

A lot had changed in the dating world since the 1970s, and a lot had changed with his body.

Before going on his first date he asked my wife Ali and I: “When should I take the Viagra?”.

Ever the optimist, he had wrapped up in ClingWrap some little blue pills and slotted them safely into the coin pocket of his wallet.

He didn’t want to take them too early in case the date wasn’t that successful.

And he didn’t want to take them too late for fear that he didn’t give these “miracle pills” enough time to wake the dead.

People in their 60s, according to an Australian sex survey, on average have sex once a week. Younger couples have sex 1.4 times per week.

According to the Healthy Male website, the majority of Australian men have some form of erectile dysfunction. The older you get, the more likely you are to need some sort of medical assistance to get, and maintain, an erection.

Men’s health physician Dr Michael Lowy told SBS recently that “as a general rule of thumb there is a 10 per cent decline in erectile function with the passing of each decade after turning 45. When facing sexual problems you need to consider whether it’s to do with physiological, medical or relationship issues.’’

According to Dr Mark Porter, there are myriad reasons why a man can struggle to get or maintain a proper erection.

In an article in The Times, Dr Porter wrote that ED issues ranged “from performance anxiety (common in younger men) and low testosterone levels, to side effects of medication and nerve damage (such as after prostate surgery)’’.

Most men respond well to oral treatments like Viagra, which has been on the market since the 1990s.

A British company is about to apply for permission to sell a topical gel in Australia that treats ED.

Eroxon has already been approved by regulators in Britain, Europe, the United States and some Middle East countries.

Futura Medical, the company that makes it, says it works in 65 per cent of cases of erectile dysfunction.

It is marketed overseas as a clinically proven treatment that “helps you get an erection within ten minutes”. Viagra, typically, takes at least 30 minutes to work. Such is the extent of the problem around the world, drugs that treat ED are big business.

Before you take Viagra though, or any other alternative, you should chat with your GP. Your doctor needs to first determine the cause of your ED and also needs to assess how Viagra will react with any other medications you are taking.

For some men, ED is not an easy thing to discuss. Remember, the 60-year-old-plus generation of men are not normally good communicators. They tend to joke like schoolboys about things like ED, rather than have a detailed conversation about how to deal with ED and its associated issues.

Some men don’t even want to see the doctor. They just want the pills that you can source (in alternate forms) online or over the counter at pharmacies.

Websites like Pilot offer Australian men a three-step procedure to obtain ED medication.

Firstly, you fill out a medical history survey. Then you have a $20 online consultation with a practitioner who asks you some questions and answers your questions. Then the medication is sent directly to your home. It’s as simple as that. Pilot is now using burly young professional footballers in their ads in an attempt to bring the conversation about ED more into the mainstream.

Sadly, some men (and women) choose to do nothing about it.

They just accept that not being able to get an erection is their lot in life. They completely give up on their sex life and lose any intimacy with their partner.

The thing is, why do so many men feel so insecure about ED and its consequences?

Men don’t have a problem going to the doctor if their hands don’t work because of arthritis, or their knees hurt under the strain of a lifetime of manual labour.

If it is something as simple as that, we go and seek help.

The fact is more 60-year-old men have ED issues than those who can still get and maintain an erection. Trust me, there’s no downside in asking for help – only an upside.

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