Don’t let the flame go out of your sex life just because age is catching up.

Erectile dysfunction. Decreased sex drive. Urinary problems.

These are some of the top conditions seen in recent years by urologists practising at Singapore General Hospital's Urology Centre and other clinics in Singapore. Although these problems may be due to reasons such as financial or relationship stresses, andropause – a condition brought about by declining levels of the male hormone testosterone – can also result in sexual problems as men age.

Erectile dysfunction is not necessarily a mid-life crisis, but rather an actual physical decline of the body. For older couples, it is important to understand how ageing affects both partners and that they should accommodate each other’s limitations.

Sexual woes

Doctors interviewed agree that sex-related problems such as erectile dysfunction, impotence and reduced libido rank among the top concerns that middle-aged men seek treatment for. How one copes with ageing depends on one’s personality. As a man ages, one of the first things he may notice is that he has poorer erections. But the sexual act is not the end in itself. One can still take time to enjoy romance and foreplay.

A matter of perspective

Solving age-related sexual problems requires a change in perspective, said Dr Ng Beng Yeong, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, who has been managing patients with sexual concerns for more than six years. He believes that there is a wide range of sexual performance levels for men and they can feel satisfied with their sexual experiences even in old age.

“Sex is not a question of function or dysfunction, or whether you can do it or not. No single definition for ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ sexual function applies universally,” he said. There are also misconceptions about erectile dysfunction drugs.

“Many people have the mistaken belief that after taking a drug like Viagra, they will spontaneously have an erection. For the drug to be effective, a couple needs to engage in foreplay and very often, direct stimulation to the penis is required,” he explained.

Read on to learn about the treatments and myths concerning sexual health in men​​.