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    Erectile dysfunction is a normal part of getting older.

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    Erectile dysfunction is a normal part of getting older.

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    Erectile dysfunction -- not being able to get an erection or keep it firm enough to have sex -- happens to older men more often, but aging itself isn't the cause. And growing older doesn't mean giving up sex. Even men in their 90s can be sexually active.

    It's normal to have erection issues once in a while. See your doctor if it's an ongoing problem, though.

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    What have men used for more than 100 years to fix this penis problem?

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    What have men used for more than 100 years to fix this penis problem?

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    Vacuum erection devices, also called pumps, work by drawing blood into the penis. A man puts a plastic tube around his shaft and pumps the air out. This tightens the cylinder, forcing blood into his penis.

    Go to your doctor to get one of these devices. If it doesn't work, he may suggest penile implants: bendable or inflatable rods put into the penis during surgery.

    If you take pills for ED, can you get erections at awkward times?

    If you take pills for ED, can you get erections at awkward times?

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    Medications including sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) work only when you're aroused. Men with ED often try these first because they're easy to use. They help about 7 out of 10 men with erections and, no doubt, with confidence.

    A common cause of ED is too much:

    A common cause of ED is too much:

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    Smoking and doing drugs, especially if they're long-time habits, can put a damper on your sex life. A few beers or glasses of wine might put you in the mood, but drinking too much, too often, could also put the brakes on erections.

    A healthy lifestyle will help you in the bedroom. So make sure you eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and manage your stress.

    If you wake up with an erection, you don't have ED.

    If you wake up with an erection, you don't have ED.

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    Some men with ED still get erections when they sleep. It usually means the root of the problem is stress, depression, or something related to the mind. If you don't have nighttime erections, your ED probably has a physical cause.

    ED is often a side effect of:

    ED is often a side effect of:

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    The delicate nerves that run along the prostate control your erections. Anything done near them could affect your sex life.

    Nearly all men who have radiation or surgery will have trouble with ED for at least a while. About half of them will have erections again within a year, if the surgery doesn't damage nerves.

    What's the best way to treat ED?

    What's the best way to treat ED?

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    If the idea gives you the willies, you're in good company. Injections work the best for erectile dysfunction, but they're also (understandably) the least popular. They're successful for 80% to 90% of men, and they don't hurt as much as you might think. Most men say it feels like a pinch.

    They're a good option when other treatments haven't worked as well as you'd like. You should see a specialist, called a urologist, to figure out what's best for you.

    Can ED lower your sex drive?

    Can ED lower your sex drive?

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    If you're not as interested in sex as you used to be, your testosterone levels might be low. A blood test can tell your doctor if that's the case.

    How often is medication the cause of ED?

    How often is medication the cause of ED?

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    Erection problems can be a side effect of a lot of medicines, including blood pressure and heart drugs, cholesterol medication, steroids, antidepressants, and tranquilizers. Drugs can affect hormones, nerves, and blood flow.

    If you started a new prescription and you think it's causing ED, don't stop taking it. But do call your doctor and ask if there's something else you could take instead.

    ED may be a sign of:

    ED may be a sign of:

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    Arteries that become more narrow and hardened -- the same thing that causes heart attacks and strokes -- can cut off blood supply to your penis. ED may also signal high blood pressure or diabetes.

    Of course, it doesn't always mean you have a serious health issue, but your doctor should make sure.

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