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Erectile Dysfunction: A Senior Man’s Perspective

GUEST POST. James Watson is a writer and blogger with a background in health, relationships, and psychology. James is retired and lives with his wife in upstate New York. When he isn’t tending to his chicken coop or gardening he is writing about love, sex, and finding happiness at any stage of life. He’s here to give us a senior man’s perspective on the feelings associated with erectile dysfunction.

For us old guys, certain things about our bodies don’t always match up with our image of our once-upon-a-time selves. As 20-somethings, we were all testosterone — all the time. But as this guide on Adam and Eve points out, not enough testosterone can be the problem after we’ve reached 60 and beyond.

It’s normal for our partners to worry about how erectile issues might impact our sex lives, but too much concern can make matters worse. Here are some tips for how to react when intimacy with your man doesn’t go quite the way you expected. The right response may be all we need to hear in order to boost our confidence and give it another go.

Don’t Get Flustered 

Erectile dysfunction is a problem that can’t go unnoticed for long in a relationship, so we don’t expect our significant others to brush it off or ignore it. However, don’t get too serious or flummoxed if sex isn’t going the way you thought it would. It’s best to take a lighthearted approach. Reassure us that it’s okay and leave it at that. If we want to talk more about it, we will; but some of us would rather not dive into a deep discussion about our erectile difficulties. Not being able to perform like we want to isn’t our favorite talking point. Give us some time — we’ll appreciate finding a receptive ear and supportive partner when we feel like opening up.

Don’t push the issue or bombard us with questions of why; the truth is that we don’t know any better than you do why our penis chooses not to cooperate. As WebMD suggests, taking the emphasis (and the pressure) off the penis altogether could be just the ticket to getting our mojo back. You might suggest we try something else in the bedroom for a while, or take a break from sex completely until it’s not at the forefront of both of our minds.

It’s Not Your Fault — Or Ours

When intimacy troubles arise, don’t take it personally, but try not to blame us, either. We know you’re disappointed; we are, too. But no matter how aroused we are by you (and trust me, we are), sometimes our bodies just don’t cooperate. Try to remember that our erectile issues aren’t an indicator of a lack of attraction or desire towards you. If you feel some self-consciousness or insecurity, know that we most likely feel those things, too. The last thing you want to do in this situation is put the blame on yourself—that will only make us feel worse.

It may be helpful to put yourself in our shoes. There are a lot of expectations for that one part of our anatomy to function properly whenever it’s called upon. When it doesn’t, we feel as though we’ve lost control. On top of that, we realize we’ve let you down and we want more than anything to be able to fix it. When we can’t, the feeling of failure is there two-fold.

Try a Little Tenderness

Like lightheartedness, tenderness can do a lot for our confidence. We’re just as frustrated by things going awry as you are, if not more so. When we have trouble satisfying our romantic needs and those of our partner, we feel devastated. Though we may not let on, we’re probably nervous about how things will go next time, so much so that we might even avoid a next time.

Men in our age group often come from backgrounds that discourage emotional expression, so admitting we need affection or a self-esteem boost is difficult for us. We’re likely to see it as a sign of weakness. But it’s important to us to know you’re there for us, regardless of how things are going between the sheets. A simple sign that you care can do wonders to improve our confidence — and our performance.

It’s important to keep in mind that while some erectile issues may be a passing problem, other times they may be caused by a serious medical condition. If this is the case, no amount of compassion from you will be enough to restore our erection, though the thought may be appreciated. This is the time to encourage us to see a doctor, who can identify what might be causing our ED and can suggest advanced treatment options.

While we know firsthand how overwhelming it can be when things don’t go quite so smoothly in the bedroom, it’s crucial to approach any issues with a positive perspective. Reminding us that you’ll be with us no matter what can help us feel like we’re not as alone in a situation that can often feel isolating. With your tenderness, tact, patience, and calm, the situation is almost sure to be resolved eventually to everyone’s satisfaction.

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'Erectile Dysfunction: A Senior Man’s Perspective' have 24 comments

  1. October 8, 2016 @ 2:52 am lucy

    meet people with herpes for love and romance in meetpeoplewithherpes.net

  2. September 15, 2016 @ 9:48 am Sienna

    Cathy-Lee — What a nice story! When two people understand each other so intimately – and also maintain a shared sense of humor (humor being a must for completely satisfying sex) – such things are possible. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. September 13, 2016 @ 12:41 pm Cathy-Lee

    I was married for 37 years to a man 28 years my senior and we had a wonderful sex life nearly the whole time. At one point, as he began having some erectile dysfunction he was greatly helped by a doctor at a male health clinic. In my husband’s case a major part of the problem was clogged arteries, which did not allow the blood to flow into the penis properly. The solution, besides shifting his diet to a non-artery clogging regimen, was also to use an injection of a drug called prostin directly into his penis. An extremely tiny needle, not freaky at all, and man did it ever do the trick! We loved it, and it became an inside joke for us, him sometimes giving me the eye and “complaining” about how I seem to want to “needle him” all the time :-))

  4. September 5, 2016 @ 9:28 pm peter

    dating for some seniors in the best online seniorpeoplemeet.info when you are looking for some partners

  5. April 13, 2016 @ 3:32 am Gary

    ED is no fun. But there is always a way. Oral sex can stimulate a man so that a couple can feel they are enjoying together.

  6. September 28, 2015 @ 11:02 am Sienna

    Susan, many couples struggle with this problem, and I thank you for commenting about your own with such sensitivity. Clearly no one is to blame in your situation, and you both surely understand that, but it is nevertheless common for a woman to feel “if only I were a little more desirable.” That you and he share your frustration and fears can actually deepen your sense of intimacy. And senior sex experts suggest finding alternative ways to pleasure each other — these can be as satisfying as penetration.

  7. September 14, 2015 @ 4:55 am Susanbaker

    I have been dating a guy for a few months, and he has ED. I am not sure whether or not it is a deal breaker or not. We are both in our 50s and this is the first time I have ever encountered this in a relationship. It’s not like we used to have a satisfying sex life and then this happened. We have not been able to launch. He is wonderful in so many other ways, but I know my libido, and I wonder how much of a problem this will be for me, although I find myself really falling for the guy. I agree with all the points about handling this with care and support. But you don’t address the impact of sexual frustration and the impact on the woman’s self-esteem. It is an awful feeling, even if you know rationally that it is not your fault and that he feels awful about it too.

  8. July 12, 2015 @ 9:05 am Sienna

    Trystrum – Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Yes, it does take an older guy more time, imagination, and sensitivity to pleasure a partner. I’d like to agree that “most” older men have learned how to determine a woman’s physical and emotional needs, and that they’ve moved to an understanding and appreciation of inner beauty. Let’s hope it’s true. In any case, it’s good to know there are men who think as you do.

  9. July 12, 2015 @ 12:16 am Trystrum

    Of course it can be iffy if a man can perform at 65 or 70 as he did at 25; that’s a given. The truth is, the man has always been the one whose “maleness” has been on the line. A man can’t fake an orgasm–he either performs or he doesn’t. But here’s the thing: after 50 years of lovemaking, most men will have learned how to pleasure a woman in more ways than one. Even the act of intimacy can or oral sex can over-ride penile penetration. I consider myself to be a far more skilled lover now than then, enough so to even satisfy a much younger woman. It is a wonderful and liberating thing to to not have to perform like the 30 year old stud I was; now it’s about connecting with the person, not the sex organs. The greatest lesson I have learned has to do with inner beauty; I now look at women once thought of as homely, who now reveal inner beauty I never recognized as a callow youth. External beauty is just that; external. Beauty in a woman is deep seated, but when duscovered, it is a revelation.

  10. March 7, 2015 @ 3:49 pm Sienna

    Thank you so much, Walker, for your comment. I admire your conviction that this is a couples’ concern, not something that a man must face without loving support from a partner with a positive and constructive attitude.

  11. March 5, 2015 @ 1:47 pm Walker Thornton

    I’ve had a long relationship with a man who has ED, he’s 66, I’m 60. Sometimes he had an erection that allowed for penetration and sometimes not. We would easily shift to oral sex, manual and other pleasurable acts that allowed both of us to reach a climax. Sex toys, cock rings and ED drugs also helped. The challenge is to be accepting of what’s in front of us and to stop thinking of intercourse as the ONLY means of finding pleasure. Many women, myself included, don’t orgasm from penetration alone so this is a great opportunity to learn each other’s bodies and pleasure zones and find other paths to satisfaction.

    I appreciate James’ willingness to talk about his sex life–we need more conversations like this to figure out what we want with our partners and how to navigate the challenges of aging and illnesses as they present themselves.

  12. January 19, 2015 @ 3:08 am Sun Badger

    Good to have a backup plan. There are many ways of getting there. I am shocked to think this should not be obvious.

  13. January 17, 2015 @ 1:35 pm Sienna

    George — Thank you for this link to a website that is indeed packed with information. Its tutorials include this excellent explanation of just what ED is, from a physiological point of view. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/erectiledysfunctionyourchoices/ur029205.pdf

  14. January 15, 2015 @ 4:33 pm George T.

    I had trouble performing when I had diabetes and the pills worked for a while, but after prostate surgery I could no longer perform. I found a doctor’s office in New York City that specializes in ED issues and it really helped. I’m not posting this as an advertisement. They showed me great respect, were very nice, and restored my ability to truly make my wife happy. Suggest you look at their website http://www.upcentersformen.com .

  15. January 10, 2015 @ 8:54 am Penny

    My lover of several years is 67 and he is just beginning to have trouble with sustaining an erection. He is terribly worried about it, and that makes it worse. I tell him it’s okay, but that doesn’t make any difference. I’m wondering if too much encouragement is as bad as none at all?

  16. January 7, 2015 @ 9:24 pm Rick

    I feel like every woman I’ve been with has read this stuff in magazines about being lighthearted and all smiley and telling the man it’s okay that he can’t get it up or keep it up. It’s like being at a cheerleader training camp or a feel-good yogaconference. It’s condescending, and that’s the nice way of saying it.

  17. December 28, 2014 @ 7:34 am Sienna

    gailstar1954 — The reasons for ED are many and complex. Don’t blame yourself. He apparently spent multiple times in your bed, and that’s proof that he found you desirable.

  18. December 23, 2014 @ 8:22 am Stella

    Words of wisdom. I feel bad for men when they can’t perform because it affects their egos and makes them think their life is over! Women can pretty much fake it, so we don’t have the ego problem. I do think tenderness helps no matter what the cause is.

  19. December 22, 2014 @ 12:34 pm Sienna

    Yankaleh – If only it were that easy!

  20. December 21, 2014 @ 2:21 pm yankaleh

    A lot of talk about ED. Just drink a glass of scotch, relax, and start over !!

  21. December 21, 2014 @ 1:23 pm OldBiddy

    I get the ternderness part, but I think it’s hard to do it without being condescending. I mean, what do you actually say, and how do you keep saying it without making it sound like a broken record or something you read in a sex manual? I think men are suspicious of too much nice supportive talk.

  22. December 21, 2014 @ 7:51 am lb214

    An ideal date for me would be just hugging all night, I don’t care about interourse.

  23. December 20, 2014 @ 4:45 pm gailstar1954

    I can say none of this tenderness helped me. I was dating a man in his late 60s and he had repeated bouts of ED. Nothing I could do helped, even though he said his doctor told him everything was okay and it was all in his mind. It could be that I didn’t turn him on. I am about 50 pounds overweight.

  24. December 20, 2014 @ 7:31 am Cynthia

    It’s good to know these things especially from a man’s point of view.


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