tourist couple smiling and walkingJulia, a 57-year-old woman presented to my clinic because her husband John of 20 years had lost interest in having sex with her which resulted in them living in a sexless marriage for the previous two years. Julie was experiencing a roller coaster of emotions thinking she was no longer desirable or that he was having an affair.

She and her husband John never discussed the fact that their sex life had all but disappeared. She was very anxious and the situation was having a negative impact on their relationship and she worried about their future together. She loved him dearly and was still very much attracted to him.

For many years, they enjoyed a happy and healthy relationship and sex life. They had the building blocks of a very successful marriage; good jobs, a lovely home wonderful children and a great sex life. Sex had always been the grout of their relationship and without it, she felt they were crumbling.

Julia then recalled that toward the end of their sex life, John was having difficulty attaining an erection and began to lose his erection in the middle of their lovemaking. She remembers attributing this to her having gained a bit of weight during the menopausal time.

Given the fact that he was losing his erections and his age of 60 it was likely that he was suffering from Erectile Dysfunction (ED) defined by the DSM-V (the bible of sexual disorders) as the inability to attain and maintain an erection adequate for penetrative sex.

Erectile dysfunction is common and treatable

ED is very common and may affect men at any age although it is more common in the later years. It is not uncommon for men to be embarrassed and stressed by ED as this strikes directly at their manhood. It may affect a man’s sexual self-esteem and is a common contributor to relationship issues. For these reasons, it is often difficult for men to discuss ED with their partners and/or their doctors.

Good hard erections are about blood flow. Extra weight especially abdominal weight may increase the risk of ED as will alcohol and certain health conditions like diabetes and medications. It is vital that men speak to their doctors about ED as it may be a risk factor for heart disease and is called the “canary in the coal mine. “ I encouraged Julia to have a conversation with her husband about ED as a health condition.

It would be important for him to speak to his doctor about it because many times, treating an underlying condition may reverse erectile dysfunction and if that did not do the trick then medications such as PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn), vacuum pumps, injections, pellets and/or SONICWAVE™ an innovative new therapy might.

Julia felt equipped to have a dialogue with her husband and she realized this was important for them to address together. “Silent no more!” she proclaimed as she left my office armed with new health information.

Written by Maureen McGrath