If you’re a guy over 40, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that you have a problem getting or keeping an erection. Now, I don’t mean the sort of erection you saw in American Pie! I mean an erection that’s firm enough and long-lasting enough for sexual satisfaction. Every guy has times when he just can’t manage an erection. Still, if you’re having trouble achieving a satisfying erection more than 50% of the time, you’ve got erectile dysfunction (ED).
Like going bald, ED becomes more common as men age. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 5% of all 40-year-old men have ED and that number rises with age. Between 15% and 25% of 65-year-old men have ED. This is one of the reasons you see so many ED drug commercials during televised sporting events, Fox News programs, and other shows that typically attract men over 50 (just kidding, Fox).
ED used to be something most men could barely admit to themselves, much less discuss with their partner or doctor. But the arrival of drugs such as Viagra (sildenafil), which help at least 80% of men with ED achieve solid erections, changed that attitude in a hurry. The important thing is that many men now openly talk about their erection troubles with their doctor. ED can be a dipstick for your health -- an early warning sign of serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. By making healthy choices, you can avoid ED and heart disease. More than 25% of 80-year-old men still enjoy great sex regularly, so you are never too old for great sex.
More Answers from Michael Roizen, MD