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We Need To Talk About Erectile Dysfunction

Here's what men want you to know.

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Travis Rathbone/Trunk Archive
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The best advice I can offer men, worried or obsessed about getting and maintaining an erection, is: Lighten up, guys. These reactions are counterproductive and actually worsen erectile dysfunction (ED) issues.

At I age, I think about ED in terms of baseball averages. No one bats .1000, and .350 is respectable. If ED limits your ability to satisfy your wife or girlfriend or partner through penetration, consider the many other available means in your sexual toolbox.

Most middle-aged and older women are far less focused on penetration than emotional intimacy, and their satisfaction can take a variety of different paths. For example, the 1978 film Coming Home featured one of the hottest sex scenes ever. Luke Martin (Jon Voight), a paraplegic veteran in a wheelchair, satisfies Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) in the only manner he could — orally.

Performance can take many forms, but I’ll address ED on emotional terms, because there’s a plethora of medical information online regarding physical issues: heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few.

And drugs like Viagra, Cialis and a host of generics are available in pharmacies and online.

While some older men take testosterone for ED, there’s some risk involved. Talk with your doctor before taking any medication.

Disclaimer: The following isn’t effective for casual sex because emotional intimacy isn’t involved. It’s the emotional and psychological aspect of ED that’s less often written about, because the fix isn’t as quick or easy as taking a pill. It’s a more complex solution that requires older men to consider, or maybe reconsider, their notion of sexual intimacy.

But an older guy who works to enhance his emotional/physical sexual capability — which simply means learning how to connect his heart with his penis — can diminish or even thwart the effects of ED. And this emotional sexual enhancement skill, when used in combination with ED meds, can boost a man’s performance exponentially.

Closing the gap that prevents a man from connecting his heart with his penis begins by delving into his deepest feelings for his partner. What may have passed for love long ago may have been more lust than love, and while this isn’t an insurmountable problem, it’s critical to understand the difference.

Lust and love were the same when I was younger, and I didn’t consider the difference until my mid-50s when I had the first inklings that my sexual performance wasn't going to be an automatic slam dunk any longer.

After consulting with my doctor and discovering there were no physical issues, I realized that my problem was likely psychological. I didn’t take this news well and erroneously thought these inklings signaled the demise of what had been a trouble-free performance history.

So I talked with my closest male friends, all in long-term marriages and still having good sex regularly. Their stories shared a common theme. Each man and his partner routinely talk about their relationship in order to deepen their emotional connection. Conversations are nonblaming, and no topic is off the table — including sex. Their methodologies vary, but each embraces sharing their deepest feelings regularly. Each also engages in regular aerobic activity.

A healthy body responds better to sexual stimulation. I call this process “catching a wave”: falling in love with my partner all over again on a butterflies/stomach level, which typically occurs when I notice something in her I previously hadn’t in a while — or maybe ever before. This could be a particularly sweet act, a kindness, a new appreciation for something old and special, or a vulnerability — any of which can open my heart up to new feelings for her.

I grew up in Boston. Red Sox superstar Ted Williams was my favorite baseball player. He’s considered one of the best to ever play the game, and his lifetime batting average was .344. When confronted with ED, I focus on my developed emotional skills to resolve it. While I’m pleased with a .500 average, admittedly I feel better when it exceeds that. My sexual experiences may or may not include ED meds, but they always involve the emotional skills learned decades ago. Remember guys, there’s no pressure. Just relax and enjoy whatever happens. It’s all good.