Modify Risk Factors For Erectile Dysfunction (ED) In Elderly Men

Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) is a subject that is difficult to research because of its personal nature. Very few good studies are available regarding the question as to how common it would be among older men.

A team of medical experts under Dr. Constance G. Bacon from the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions have investigated this problem in men older than 50 years and published the results in the August 5, 2003 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

31,724 men aged 53 to 90 years were taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Since 1986 they had been filling out detailed questionaires biennially. In 2000 detailed questions about sexual function were also included. Erectile dysfunction was defined as “having poor or very poor ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse without treatment during the past 3 months”. The investigators found that about 1/3 of the men above the age of 50 had a sexual dysfunction. Such factors as orgasm, ability to have intercourse, sexual desire and overall sexual function were all affected more and more with every year after the age of 50. When this was further analyzed using multivariate analyses an interesting pattern of reasons for this emerged. The following factors were identified to be independent risk factors for the development of erectile dysfunction.

Modify Risk Factors For Erectile Dysfunction (ED) In Elderly Men

Modify Risk Factors For Erectile Dysfunction (ED) In Elderly Men

Each of the factors from this table is an independent risk factor and can be managed separately. For instance, the investigators found that a higher level of physical activity was associated with much less ED. The best group (men with no ED) was found among those who were always conscious about disease prevention and who had none of the conditions listed in this table or other chronic medical conditions. Leanness and physical activity were associated with good sexual functioning in this study.

Risk factors leading to erectile dysfunction (ED)
Symptoms: Comments:
increasing age
aging likely affects the blood supply to the swelling bodies of the penis; it also clamps down on testosterone production of the testicles
smoking accelerates aging and hardening of arteries
diabetes mellitus affects circulation and nerve impulse transmission
interferes with brain centers of arousal
antidepressant medication anticholinergic side-effect interferes with penile erection
beta-blocker medication reduction of libido (likely at the brain level from sympathetic nerve block)
alcohol consumption alcohol is a nerve poison that interferes with pudendus nerve function (lack of erections)
TV viewing time due to prolonged sitting there is a chronic lack of exercise that leads to nerve conduction and circulatory problems resulting in ED

This summary is based on a paper published in the medical journal of Annals of Internal Medicine 2003;139:161-168 by Dr. Constance G. Bacon and co-workers.

Here is a brief chapter on erectile dysfunction from Dr. Schilling’s web-based free Net Health Book.

Last edited October 26, 2014


Beware Of Binges

In the June 16, 2003 issue of Time (page 73) an article appeared under the heading “Summertime booze”. A study from the Buffalo University showed that women, in particular, have to be conscious that drinking 3 or 4 drinks at one time on the weekend is not the same as drinking the same 3 to 4 drinks over the course of one week.

A study looking at the frequency of breast cancer in relation to drinking patterns found that the binge drinking women had a 80% higher breast cancer risk than the controls who drank 3 to 4 drinks at a time (but only one drink per day). Jo Freudenheim, the epidemiologist involved in this study, suggested that perhaps with the binge drinking alcohol’s toxic potential for breast cancer cells had been reached whereas with one drink at a time over one week this level was never encountered.

In another study from the Buffalo University liver toxicity as a result of alcohol exposure was examined. These researchers used blood tests to measure liver enzymes, which were leaking from the liver cells as a result of the toxic effect of alcohol. Both men and women were tested and various drinking patterns were also studied. Men who drink several drinks daily had the highest liver enzyme counts (reflecting the toxic effect of alcohol on the liver). However, women who drink only on weekends had even higher counts of the liver enzymes than men! Women who drank on an empty stomach had much higher liver enzymes in these studies than men where this effect did not show (with men it did not matter whether they drank with food or on an empty stomach).

Beware Of Binges

Beware Of Binges

The researchers concluded that binge drinking appears to affect women more than men. Generally speaking the higher the amount of alcohol consumed, the more toxic the effects on body cells and on the liver. Moderation may be in order.

Comments: These type of studies are particularly important in view of the fact of marketing techniques of the wine industry. Wine and alcoholic beverages are being portrayed as being a good source of bioflavonoids that are lowering cholesterol and would prevent or postpone heart attacks. Some of the data on cancer indicates that for ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer there may not be a safe low dose as even one drink per day can have a measurable effect on cancer risk. On the other hand, bioflavonoids are abundantly present in raw vegetables and fruit, so there is no panic about not getting enough heart attack preventing foods. Finally, a bit of common sense does not harm: alcohol is a cell toxin, so it should be diluted (nothing stronger than wine) and if you desire a drink, use it in moderation.

Link to chapter on alcoholism in Net Health Book:

Last edited October 26, 2014



Men Need Testosterone For the Male Menopause


Men need testosterone for the male menopause as their testicles no longer produce enough of the male hormone. At a recent continuing education meeting at the University of Calgary in Alberta/Canada, which was reported in the Jan. 14, 2003 edition of the Medical Post, Dr. Norman Wong (professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology) reviewed the symptoms, investigations and treatment modalities available for men who experience andropause (the male equivalent of menopause). They are as follows (my summary in table form).

Here is a link to the ADAM questionnaire regarding andropause by Dr. Morley, a geriatrician at the St. Louis University in Missouri. If you answer “yes” to question #1 and #7 (sexual dysfunction or lack of sex drive) or if you answer “yes” to any three of the other total of 10 questions, you should see your physician and ask for a testosterone blood test.

The testosterone blood test

What should you know about testosterone blood tests? What counts is the free testosterone or bioavailable testosterone. Dr. Ronald Swerdloff, professor of internal medicine and endocrinology at the UCLA School of Medicine in Torrance, California, stated at this conference that testosterone production decreases with aging, but is actually also one of the causes of aging. Testosterone levels decrease 1% to 2% every year from the age of 30 onwards. However, the sex hormone binding protein (SHBP) can buffer these changes for a certain period of time, if the SHBP is binding less testosterone thus keeping the free or biologically available testosterone relatively stable for a number of decades or years.

Replacement of missing testosterone

Often, however, the andropausal men who need testosterone replacement have high SHBP levels. Nobody knows why some men have problems earlier than others. So, if the free testosterone serum level is low (and the LH and FSH hormones are low or normal) this means that this man should have testosterone replacement therapy, if there are also clinical signs and symptoms of hormone deficiency.

Testosterone For Male Menopause (Andropause)

Testosterone For Male Menopause (Andropause)


As can be seen from this link to menopause in women , the pituitary hormones LH and FSH, which are also known as gonadotropins, should be high to indicate that the feedback mechanism between the estrogen (or in the male the testosterone) no longer suppresses the production of these gonadotropins. The fact that this mechanism is lost in most older men shows that the hormone deficiency is likely much more profound than a simple deficiency, it may actually be indicative of the aging process of the hormone glands themselves. The good news though is that with a simple testosterone patch this can be fixed. Your doctor can discuss this further with you.

Injections of testosterone

Other possibilities are injections every 3 to 4 weeks with a Depo-testosterone hormone preparation or tablets. However, with the tablets the problem is that this will get metabolized in the liver and higher amounts of hormone are required to overcome the liver barrier. Liver cancer has been reported in a small percentage of men taking tablets for a long period of time.  I think that testosterone tablets are not safe for this reason. Prostate cancer is the other worry and regular PSA tests and prostate exams should be done by your doctor. No clinical trials are available regarding the safety of long term testosterone replacement in andropausal men. Dr. Swerdloff recommended to replace only in the lower dose range to the point where the free testosterone serum values are just barely in the normal range and the clinical signs and symptoms disappear. Avoid overtreatment with testosterone.

Andropause symptoms (male menopause)
Symptoms: Comments:
loss of sex drive (libido) testosterone from the testicles, is responsible for a normal sex drive
erectile dysfunction
inability to have sustained erections
loss of male characteristics loss of male type hair distribution, deep voice, muscle mass etc.
fatigue and depression brain hormones dysbalanced from low testosterone levels
decrease in muscle mass, increase in fat mass lack of testosterone responsible for muscle loss and change in bone metabolism
oligospermia or azoospermia too little sperm count or no sperm present

Additional information about effects of testosterone

Addendum Nov. 2, 2012: At the 19th Annual World Congress Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine in Las Vegas (December 8-10, 2011) Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a Harvard trained urologist explained that with bio-identical testosterone replacement there is no longer any concern about prostate or liver cancer with long-term use. It has been one of the “medical myths” that has been around. Dr. Morgentaler also noted that testosterone replacement is safe and actually prevents prostate cancer. He suggested replacement of testosterone with blood values being in the higher range of normal.

See also link to andropause/male menopause from the Net Health Book.