Erectile Dysfunction

Questions are from Dr. McMurtrey’s weekly column, “Ask Dr. Kim” in the Elizabethton Star newspaper.

Question from “Anonymous” in Hampton: I am only 42 years old and having problems in the bedroom with my wife. I think the medical term is “ED.” It started about two months ago. My wife gets either sad or mad at me and thinks it is about her but it isn’t. I love her and thinks she is awesome. I just can’t figure out what the problem is. Any advice? Is this ever normal at 42? Am I just getting old?

Answer: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is never normal, but it is a very common problem for a variety of reasons. ED can be caused by several serious conditions and several “not-so-serious” conditions. ED can be caused by the following: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol, obesity, certain prescription medications, alcoholism, opiate medications, marijuana, sleep apnea, enlarged or infected prostate, low testosterone, and depression. ED should always be assessed by a health care provider to rule out any of these dangerous and life-threatening causes. It is important that your provider check comprehensive labs. At my clinic, I usually check the insulin level, hemoglobin A1C, cholesterol, kidney and liver function, thyroid, prostate, and hormone levels (testosterone and estrogen). It is also advisable to stop smoking, decrease or quit using alcohol and/or illicit drugs. Exercise for at least 45 minutes each day and take measures to decrease stress. If your issue continues after trying these conservative measures, see your health care provider right away.