elderly couple not talking about erectile dysfunction (ED) problems

Vicki here. . .

After an outpouring of response to Kevin’s article about impotence, we are including another post about erectile dysfunction (ED). This post is from a man who became impotent in his late 40s and struggled for years to find a solution to ED. Retired now, he recently remarried, and together they are the proud grandparents of five. And, the best part is. . .they have a great sex life to boot. Yes, you really can have it all!

By sharing his experience, we hope you learn that having erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life.

A long struggle with impotency. . .

One of the hardest mindfucks I faced as I’ve gotten older is erectile dysfunction, also less gloriously called impotency, words I hate even more than ED.

In my late 40s, I blamed my erectile dysfunction on the emotional disconnection with my wife. It was the declining days of our marriage when I first realized I couldn’t maintain an erection. It progressed over the next 20 years to not being able to get an erection at all most of the time. There were a few good days of a partial erection of about 70 to 80%, but that was just as disappointing as nothing because it was insufficient for intercourse. It still pains me to remember trying unsuccessfully to initiate sex with a penis that was too soft.

I had all kinds of excuses why my erection didn’t work. Even when I was highly aroused, I still couldn’t get it up. I simply couldn’t get hard, or rather hard enough to have intercourse. Sometimes I got hard, and then, just as we were slipping into a favorite position, I would lose my erection.

When I first began having erectile problems, I thought my mental state could produce an erection. So, I involved my mind in serious, mental sexual fantasies and began looking at pornography. But even my most erotic fantasies wouldn’t produce the hardness of my youth. It was several years before I understood that ED has a physiological cause that my mind would never be able to overcome.

This experience spanned a couple of marriages and a five-year period of being single and dating.

Sex stopped being fun

What it did to my confidence, self-esteem, and relationships was crushing. I didn’t have the words to explain it. How could I bring it up? What would my partner say? In the heat of the moment, my performance issues were impossible to cover up and even harder to explain. I was too embarrassed to discuss this with my lovers.

My entire sexual experience was wrapped around worrying if I could get an erection. And if I could, I worried more that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. This made me hesitant to engage in sex and undermined my relationships because I couldn’t talk about it. I had a difficult enough time explaining this to myself and was at a total loss about how to communicate this problem to my lovers. I researched erectile dysfunction obsessively, and I tried anything I thought might help. Looking back, I was more interested in the solution than the cause.

Penile implant

My first step was to consult a urologist. These were pre-Viagra days, so he suggested an expensive operation to cure my erectile dysfunction. He would surgically insert two balloons in place of my penis’ spongy tissue with a secret pump placed inside my scrotum, kind of like a 3rd testicle. By the way, in a healthy male, the spongy tissue engorges with blood, which creates a hard erection.

I would pump up to get hard and then release to return to normal. The operation would cost over $10,000 and be irreversible. I passed on this option but kept it in mind.

TriMix–an injectable medicine

The same doctor offered another less invasive option, TriMix. This compound consists of three carefully mixed medicines that I would inject by needle into the spongy tissue of my penis. The mixture is somewhat expensive and requires a compounding pharmacy. It also requires refrigeration and has a shelf life of fewer than three months. I used this for several years.

My success was sometimes fantastic, and yet, at other times, it did not work at all. Although I’m still unsure why it did not work, I deduced that several factors could have caused the unsuccessful times, 

  • The chemical mix was too old and had lost its power,
  • Lack of proper temperature control, or
  • The injection missed the sweet spot of the spongy tissue.

When it worked, the effect would be within five minutes, so I knew quickly if it worked or not. And when it worked, it was great!

Later, I started injecting a second dose if I had a failure, which again sometimes worked and other times did not. Maybe I was wrong to do this without my doctor’s consent, because too much of this drug can cause priapism. I’m sure you’ve heard the warning, “If your erection lasts longer than four hours, seek medical attention right away.” As much as I wanted a strong hard on, worrying about priapism added to my psychological stress.

Viagra hits the market

In 1998, the FDA released Viagra. I had a prescription and cranked up to the maximum dose of 100 mg. Just to be sure, I often used Viagra and TriMix together (again without my doctor’s knowledge), because I wanted the hard, long lasting erection it usually gave me. With Viagra, I had to monitor when I ate and the amount of alcohol I drank as well as decide how to take it—whether to swallow, chew, or keep it in my saliva for a long time. These factors seemed to predict when it would take effect and how effective it would be.

When taking Viagra alone, I noticed that sometimes I wouldn’t feel the effects for about 12 hours, disappointing both my lover and myself. So, the unknowns of erectile dysfunction continued. I struggled with how to deal with my mental anguish as well as my lover’s disappointment. Women always say it’s okay, but men know it’s not.

By this time in my long journey of dealing with impotence, I was more comfortable with the entire issue. As a result, I was able to explore and enjoy a lot of sex without an erection. In fact, I learned a lot of fun ways to be sexual instead of intercourse! But still…………..sigh.

Cialis arrives on the scene

And then in 2003, Cialis came on the market. Right off, I tried a high dose of 20 mg. This seemed to work at first, but I suffered the side effect of backache for a couple of days after dosing. So, I returned to the Viagra and TriMix option, knowing it did not always work but not having to deal with side effects.

The penile pump

I was always looking for better options on the internet. After struggling with ED for over 20 years, I was finally comfortable discussing it with women. Together, my new wife and I discovered the penile pump, which is recommended for patients who are completely impotent from diabetes or prostate cancer.

For $125, I ordered the Encore pump. The pump works with the blood flow dynamics of the penis. Blood flows into the penis through arteries in the penis interior, creating an erection. The pump sucks in the blood that makes the penis hard. When fully engorged, you twist the pump sleeve which releases an elastic ring around the penis base. This ring prevents outflow and keeps the erection hard while blood flows out the arteries closer to the surface.

The unit comes with several ring sizes. You experiment to find the ring size that is neither too loose nor too tight. I didn’t take long to find the correct size. After some initial clumsiness, I perfected putting the unit together and pumping myself up. Get this: I can assemble and pump up in 60 to 90 seconds! So sex is almost spontaneous again, sometimes too spontaneous for my wife, who wants more time devoted to foreplay!

They recommend taking the ring off after 45 minutes. This has never been a problem for us. After a brief rest with the ring off, I usually pump up again. I’ve been using the pump for four years, and it works every time! In my experience, it’s unaffected by mental state, alcohol or food consumption, drug side effects, or the timing of sex. My wife jokes that I could be dead for a couple of days, and she could still pump me up. Fully pumped, I am at 110% engorgement.

A happy ending

Because the pump draws blood into the penis naturally, I have the erotic feeling of erectile fullness, and it feels really good! The surgery I mentioned earlier would pump in saline and not have that natural feeling. I would have a fuck stick instead of an erotically charged penis.

I am happy to say I’ve solved my erectile problems, and after all this time, I have sexual confidence again. And I want to mention that over the years I’ve talked to many women about the negative head trip men have about erectile dysfunction. The women all say they don’t care how a man gets an erection, they just appreciate that he has one. So, it seems the stigma about taking pills and using devices to overcome ED is all but gone these days. My wife even enjoys—in fact, is fascinated—by pumping me up herself.

elderly couple in bed after having solved impotency erectile dysfunction (ED) problems

Kevin here. . .

So many problems, so much pain! Your story will definitely help. Thanks so much for sharing!

Our goal with sharing this story is to normalize erectile dysfunction as we age. Because it is a common occurrence, there is no shame in it for you or your partner. We’re not saying you have to be happy about it. To be honest, ED is a huge, painful loss for men that should be grieved. But it is also true that impotence can be remedied far more successfully now than at any other time in the past.

We’d love to hear your experience with ED if you dare to talk about it!