February 2, 2018

For many men, their sense of self is wrapped around their attitudes towards masculinity. A big part of that line of thinking is their ability in the bedroom. His competence in sexually satisfying his partner frames how he sees his role as a functioning male. That’s why men spend so much time, money, and resources trying to last longer in bed.

As men get older, their sense of maleness gets attacked on multiple fronts. They reach retirement age and have to leave their day jobs, which can affect their position as breadwinners. They might still have a pension to cover expenses, but they lose the satisfaction of ‘bringing home the bacon.’ Meanwhile, their sex life declines.

If their partner is in their age bracket, their partners may have a reduced sex drive, cutting down the frequency of bedroom play. On the occasions where both partners want to engage in sex, the man may have a hard time getting and maintaining an erection. In the past, this has been a source of embarrassment and self-doubt.

Lately, though, it seems like men are becoming more comfortable with the concept. In 1992, the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Centre ran a study on ED. They interviewed 1,410 men about their bedroom performance. The men were aged 18 to 59. Among the eldest men in the study – the 50 to 59 year-olds – 18% experienced ED.

About fifteen years later, in 2006, the university carried out another study. This time, the subjects were aged 57 to 85, and the study pool contained 1,455 men. This time, the youngest men in the group – the 54 to 67 year-olds – had a much higher prevalence. 31% of them admitted to erectile dysfunction.

There are different interpretations of these results. Some scientists believe men in their early sixties face an influx of ED, and that accounts for the hike in erectile dysfunction. Another analysis suggests it’s less about the problem and more about its solution. The reason men were so uncomfortable with ED was that it seemed insurmountable.

For older men, erectile dysfunction was a second form of retirement. It took them off the sexual shelf, and they had no hope of fixing it or resolving the challenge. However, in 1998, Viagra was approved. It offered hope of early ejaculation treatment to men all over the world.

So it’s possible that this treatable condition was no longer an unbeatable enemy, and that made it easier to accept, discuss, and resolve. It was no longer a viable threat. This shift in attitude may explain the drastic increase in ED, as seen by the 2006 study.

It doesn’t necessarily mean more men are having ejaculation problems. It may simply mean more men are comfortable owning their bedroom problems. After all, it’s less about lost masculinity and more like a headache. And once a man admits to said ‘a headache’, he can fix it. The ease of treatment certainly minimises the stigma. Which is surely a positive step for everyone.

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