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What Erectile Dysfunction Looks Like In The Second Half Of Life

Here's how it impacted my long happy marriage.

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Claudia Chanhoi
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If there’s one thing I could always count on in my marriage, it has thankfully been terrific sex.

Now, that doesn’t mean that in those sleep-deprived early years of marriage and raising babies that we were getting it on day and night like lustful 22-year-olds. But honestly, we married young so, yes, even amidst the exhaustion and mental, physical and financial stresses of young parenthood, sex was a way to bring us back together.

Of course, as years go by, our sexual needs and desires and that of our partner ebb and flow with highs and lows, with nights of tear-off-your-clothes intimate passion followed by nights of very vanilla sex that at its minimum, well, just simply does the trick.

So, after 25+ years of that kind of a mutually joyful and fulfilling sex life, I was completely perplexed when one day my husband’s erection was here and gone before I could even peel off my bra. He was similarly bewildered, and as both of us lay there looking at each other for some magical explanation as to what was going on with his once always perfectly functioning, uh, part, I immediately thought to myself,It must be me, right?

Because naturally, that’s the first place a middle-aged women’s mind goes when their sexual partner appears to not be into it. I’ve aged! Things are sagging! I don’t do it for him anymore! Of course, I was reassured it was none of those things, and that I was still very much wanted, still sexy as hell, and it was probably just “work stress” or “exhaustion.”

Sex went back to normal for a bit, but when it happened again a few weeks later, we couldn’t even get things started because something didn’t pop up enough to even come out and play. I went back to thinking it was me. And he went right to thinking it was him, which I later learned leads to performance anxiety.

A few uncomfortable weeks went by while I did my due diligence of WebMD searches on erectile dysfunction. I could tell he was at a loss as to what was happening, and that we needed to do something about it. Yes, we, because ED is not just a man’s issue, it is a couple’s issue, and as such it needs to be treated as a couple. I finally took charge and made us an appointment with a urologist, and together we marched in looking like a couple of nervous teenagers buying condoms in a drug store. The urologist was absolutely lovely, reassuring us that ED affects nearly 30 million men a year and is very treatable. He also told us right away how wonderful it was that we visited him as a couple, and just that fact alone meant no matter what the cause of my husband’s occasional ED was (or what the treatment was), we would likely find success because of our mutual dedication to the vitally important sexual health of our marriage.

That statement alone made me emotional and helped convince me that this was just another marital bump in the road for us, and that together we’d be able to get through this.

ED can result from a multitude of causes, some of which can be very serious like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure just to name a few, so expect a full workup of your partner’s general health as part of an ED diagnosis. In our case, my husband was thankfully in perfect health, and sometimes the only explanation for occasional ED is simply age, and the go-to treatment is the little blue pill. (There are many options now besides the blue one, so make sure to work with your urologist to find the one that works best for your situation.) Upon hearing this, we managed a good chuckle all the way to the pharmacy, wondering how in the world we became that couple on those infamous Viagra commercials.

We both felt a huge sense of relief to be able to laugh about it. If you can’t joke together about not being able to get it up, then you’re not going to do well when neither of you can climb up a set of stairs without the other!

Thankfully, we eventually grew past the initial awkwardness of needing to use a pill before doing something as natural and instinctual as having sex, and while at first it did have a learning curve (as all new sex does) almost 30 years of doing it helped make our new situation, and each other, extremely forgiving. Sex does get better after 50, and even though it may need a little head start to get the race going, after living half a century, don’t we all deserve an advantage to get to the finish line?

Do you and your partner have experience with ED? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health