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SEX AND GETTING OLDER: ERECTILE DIFFICULTIES

If you are prepared to experiment a bit, you can work out different techniques that can satisfy both partners. Remember, a man doesn’t need an erection to be able to ejaculate or orgasm. The cause of erection difficulties might be psychological or reversible.

Apart from diabetes or disease in the blood vessels, there are many other things which can affect your ability to get an erection. Some blood pressure pills called beta blockers and some antidepressants can do this, as well as alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette smoking. There are also some medications that can interfere with a woman’s libido, her lubrication and her ability to orgasm, so if these are happening since you started taking a drug, ask your doctor to check for you.

It’s definitely worth getting medical advice sooner rather than later to work out the underlying problems. I remember hearing about a case some years ago which warned of an unusual ‘drug reaction by proxy’. A woman in her fifties complained of a recent onset of severe headaches. On closer questioning it seemed these headaches came on regularly, some time after intercourse. She denied any deep psychological reasons for wanting to avoid sex with her husband. If that had been the case, the headaches would have been in anticipation, not after the event! It turned out that her husband had been worried about his erections losing their hardness. He suffered a bit of angina (caused by narrowing of the arteries to the heart) and he had some nitroglycerin ointment that he applied to his chest to help dilate the arteries around the heart. Using simple logic, he figured ‘a blood vessel’s a blood vessel’ and had taken to applying the ointment to his penis before intercourse. The vagina is very efficient at absorbing drugs into the body and one of the side effects of nitroglycerin ointment is … you guessed it … headaches!

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