Clean living is key to men remaining virile after the age of 45, according to new research which shows sex, drugs and rock and roll is an oxymoron.
It is almost inevitable that men will start experiencing erectile dysfunction as they get older. But those who are fit and healthy are at least risk, according to the research published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
The likelihood of erectile dysfunction increases by 11.3 per cent every year once men hit the age of 45, say the researchers. But smoking, heavy drinking, sedentary lifestyle and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and depression dramatically increase the risk.
About 80 per cent of men aged 75 and older have moderate or complete erectile dysfunction, says researcher Associate Professor David Smith from Cancer Council NSW.
"Current heavy smokers are 86 per cent more likely to have erectile problems than other men and being obese doubles the risk.
"Men can influence their sex lives later on in life. When other men might be losing their ability to achieve an erection, fitter, healthier non-smokers can lower their risks.
The researchers used data on 101,674 men with no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer from the 45 and Up Study, a population-based study of NSW residents aged 45 and over.
They found 39.3 per cent reported no dysfunction, 25 per cent had mild issues, 19 per cent had moderate issues and 17 per cent had complete dysfunction.
Co-author Associate Professor Emily Banks from the Australian National University says there are simple steps that can potentially reduce risk of erectile dysfunction.
These include stopping smoking, increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.
She says men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction should see their GP to find out if there are any underlying health problems.
Simple steps can then be discussed to help prevent further loss of function and to prevent potential disease.
The condition can be extremely distressing, says Prof Smith.
However, he urged men not to be embarrassed about speaking to their doctor and not to turn to the internet for expensive untested remedies.