Last Updated on 4 October 2022 by Ray Plumlee

Erectile-Dysfunction In Men Over Sixty
Erectile-Dysfunction In Men Over Sixty

If we were to pay too much attention to drug commercials we see on television, we could easily imagine that erectile dysfunction is quite prevalent, and easily handled with a little pill. But is this true? What do you really know about erectile dysfunction, especially in men over the age of fifty? Do you really suffer from this condition? Can it be treated? 

It seems to be true that all men will experience what they see as erectile dysfunction as they advance in years. We certainly do not have the same stamina, or lightning-fast responses, that we had at eighteen. But that may not be as bad as it seems. And we should be careful to understand just what is happening to us. Are we suffering from a true medical condition, or have we simply been overwhelmed by the natural changes which come with advancing years?

The term “erectile dysfunction” itself may be misinterpreted by the public in general. The American Urologic Association defines erectile dysfunction as the inability to obtain an erection from masturbation. This is a very concise definition, and, in light of this, it has become apparent that what most men will feel is erectile dysfunction is more along the lines of “erectile dissatisfaction.” That is, their erections are becoming harder to achieve, less hard and rigid, and can disappear easily with negative stimuli, such as a ringing phone or a barking dog. But, changed though they may be, a man can still rise to the occasion, as it were.

Around the age of fifty, and perhaps earlier in diabetics and smokers, a man’s natural erection changes. This may happen gradually over time or may be sudden, which can be particularly alarming. Your usual erection can become harder to achieve, less rigid when you do achieve it, and may not last as long as it had in the past. But just because you are dissatisfied does not mean you are dysfunctional. True erectile dysfunction, the inability to achieve an erection with manual manipulation, is a precursor to cardiovascular disease and should be taken quite seriously.

According to the American Medical Association, over 600,000 men aged forty-nine to sixty develop erectile dysfunction each year, and these older men are twice as likely to also contract a cardiovascular disease. In fact, the primary cause of erectile dysfunction in men over fifty is atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. In this case, the walls of the arteries have become stiff, affecting their ability to transport blood. Blood flow can also be restricted by the buildup of plaque and cholesterol. It makes sense, therefore, that many men with erectile dysfunction will also exhibit signs of heart disease, as healthy blood flow is required for both a healthy heart and a healthy penis. If you are experiencing true erectile dysfunction, a complete medical check-up is of vital importance, as you are at risk of the more serious cardiovascular issues, which can affect not just your love life, but your life itself.

It stands to reason that, given the underlying cause of both erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease is the restricted flow of blood, that a healthy lifestyle would mitigate both conditions. Smoking is a definite no-no, of course. And if you are a diabetic, get treatment to control the condition. See your doctor for a check-up. He can prescribe medications to control your cholesterol and blood pressure if needed. Limit yourself to no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and remember to follow a healthy diet, with five daily servings of fruits or vegetables. If the underlying circulatory issues are treated and resolved, erectile dysfunction can disappear as well. 

But, if you do find yourself suffering from a case of erectile dysfunction, or simply dissatisfaction, all is not lost. Many men simply choose to surrender to the inevitability of the aging process, only to find that it’s not so bad at all. Women also experience changes with age. They may develop vaginal dryness or even atrophy, making intercourse painful, or even impossible. If your long-term partner suffers from such a condition, she may welcome the change in your sex life. Kissing, cuddling, oral sex, and the mutual use of sex toys can provide the intimacy you both crave. You can achieve orgasm without having an erect penis. A semi-erect penis, or even a flaccid one, is still capable of delivering an amazing climax, so all is definitely not lost.

If you have decided that you are not yet ready to let go, figuratively speaking, of a fully erect penis, you may want to see your doctor about the drugs available to help with the problem. Be aware, however, that these drugs, notably Viagra and Cialis, work for only about two-thirds of patients. That means that fully one-third of the men who try them will receive no benefit. And even some of those who do try them, and have them work, will remain dissatisfied. Over half of the men using such drugs never have their prescriptions refilled Of these two, Viagra is probably the most widely known. The “little blue pill” has developed fame of its own, as it were. But Cialis is actually the more popular of the two, given that it remains effective for twenty-four to thirty-six hours, as opposed to Viagra lasting only three to five hours. And bear in mind that while these drugs have definite physical effects on the body, particularly the penis, they offer no corresponding effects on the mind. Meaning, they cannot cause you to become aroused. You may be sporting the most impressive erection you have experienced in years, and simply have no motivation to use it. All dressed up with nowhere to go, as the saying goes. 

It is natural for anybody to regret the changes inherent in the aging process, and there is nothing wrong with trying to mitigate these changes. Only you can decide how you adapt to these new developments in your body, particularly your penis and, potentially, your sex life. In some cases, change may even be good.

Recently both Viagra and Cialis have become available in generic versions that work just as effectively but at a much cheaper price. So what are you waiting for?

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I’m Nick Wilkinson. I writer and radio personality who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

With over 14 years of experience in the Behavioral Health Field, I’ve been working in close contact with kids from all walks of life.

Specializing in teenagers and young adults, I’ve been a career long supporter of “verbal de-escalation” and non-violent crisis intervention. I believe that what you say, and how you say it, are the keys to successful communication. I currently write about men's health topics, parenting and child abuse topics, and other social issues. You can visit my blog at

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