While it may be difficult for men to talk with their doctors about sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction, testosterone deficiency and premature ejaculation, it's important to do so because they could contribute to other health problems, including heart disease and depression, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
"Men over the age of 40 really should start taking notice of these issues and discuss them with their doctor," said Dr. Mohit Khera, assistant professor in the Scott Department of Urology at BCM.
"They could signify other impending, more threatening problems."
Erectile dysfunction is not just a significant problem for a man and his partner, but it may also indicate a heart problem.
"Erectile dysfunction can be the first marker or sign of heart disease," said Khera. "Penile arteries are much smaller than coronary arteries and thus are much more sensitive to cholesterol, plaque formation and hypertension (high blood pressure), thus the penis may get less blood flow."
If the penile arteries are clogged, then the coronary arteries could be next, he said.
Approximately 30 percent of men over the age of 45 do not make enough testosterone, Khera said.
In addition to a low sex drive, low testosterone can contribute to a number of other things, such as increased fat deposition, poor sleep, low energy and depression.
"We have also observed associations between low testosterone and a greater risk for osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease," said Khera.
"Testosterone is a very good marker for men's health," said Khera. "But it's important to note that men must be diagnosed first – with a simple blood test – before making decisions about treatment."
Testing and treatment should be done by a licensed physician, Khera said.
Often, men who experience premature ejaculation suffer a great deal of psychological distress, Khera said.
"We know this is an issue men really do not want to talk about, but there is treatment available, and we can help eliminate the depression associated with this," said Khera. "It can be a big problem and seriously affect a man's life and his relationship."
Khera encouraged an open conversation between the patient and his physician.