I/we have extensive experience with this issue/topic. Maybe I can help.
BRAIN DUMP AHEAD.
It is/was unrelated and then only tangentially referenced Husband's infidelity. Husband's infidelity occurred approximately 10 years earlier, when everything was functioning normally.
Some basic background:
Husband is and was in excellent physical health: weight appropriate, runner, regular exercise, lifelong non-smoker, no diabetes, no hypertension, no drugs, light alcohol use. In other words, not a set up, nothing pointing to an oncoming issue.
My husband first experienced ED in his mid to late 30s. Out of nowhere. I now suspect that the onset was earlier and more gradual. I was not living in his skin, so I'm sure that there was information that I did not have, symptoms and clues of which I was not aware. He was likely aware, but assigning those clues and symptoms to anything but a physical issue. He was a very healthy young man.
The initial onset of which I was aware, and with which we both dealt, was random and sporadic and appeared to be associated with nothing whatsoever.
My husband did have a very demanding job and a workaholic personality to go along with it, so of course, we both initially assigned the random and sporadic ED to stress. Except it didn't exactly line up.
Like you, we'd had an excellent and regular sex life until this hit out of nowhere. When his equipment cooperated, our sex life continued to be excellent, until it wasn't.
Once equipment failure occurs more than a handful of times, it starts to mess with everybody's head, his and yours.
My husband did consult his internist, who like a fucking dunderhead (or not, maybe this was a legit question) went straight to, "Well, maybe you're no longer attracted to your wife." Thanks, Doc. =/ My husband assured his internist that he was still attracted to his wife, and wanted very much to have that healthy sex life back, with his wife. The internist sent him to a therapist- a routine run of the mill therapist, not a sex therapist nor a marriage therapist.
The therapist went straight for the standard catch all: depression/anxiety. She had the internist prescribe antidepressants. My husband may be the only man in the history of antidepressants to achieve a temporary sexual 'bump' from antidepressants. Our sex life resumed somewhat, for a short period of time. We had hope, which quickly faded.
Looking back, it is more than obvious now that the antidepressants gave marginal, temporary relief only because they numbed Husband to the ever increasing stress load and work load at his job, which was increasing exponentially. (We also realized almost too late for us that this was now Standard Operating Procedure. As long as he kept showing up, yesterday's crisis, emergency, balls out mitigation became today's way of doing business.)
Anyway, the antidepressants aided Husband in dealing with increasing workload and stress, which of course absorbed so much of his life that 'work life balance' and 'time off' and even 'free time' and simple fucking 'after work' became a joke. He was *always* 'at work,' 'on the clock,' and 'plugged in.' Always, even if he was at home, he wasn't at home.
And the antidepressants killed off any vestiges of libido.
He didn't even miss it anymore. =( =(
I'd offered my husband every kind of equitable, trouble free split, if lack of interest in me was the issue. He insisted that it was not.
I can readily say that I had absolutely no suspicion, nor reason for suspicion of infidelity during this period, despite long hours at work and no sexual interest at home. I know that sounds strange and unrealistic, but there was just nothing there- no suspicion, no suspicious activity, nothing.
Husband was adamant that he didn't want a divorce.
I didn't want a divorce either.
We settled into a long period of marital celibacy.
At first it *really* fucked with my head. I mean, *really* fucked with my head. I was a young, healthy, attractive woman with a normal libido. Life was passing me by. But, I did and I do love my husband, and I really didn't want to dismantle my and our entire life over sex. I eventually got to a place of peace with living inside the notion that at least we weren't dealing with the ED and its psychological and emotional ramifications. I was no longer torturing myself about whether or not I was attractive to him, and we both weren't torturing him with continuing to put him in positions of failure.
We just, dropped it entirely.
To give you a timeline and some context:
First experiences with ED were in our mid to late 30s.
By late 30s, we were having random but recurrent ED issues.
By early 40s, ED was a consistent problem.
We struggled through our 40s.
By the time we turned 50, our sex life was non-existent.
Life eventually reached a crescendo.
His damned job reached a crescendo and very nearly crashed what was left of our lives. It was never going to change- unless it got worse, which it consistently did.
It was fucking *insane,* I am not even kidding.
Why did we put up with that for so long???
One of the true tells was that Husband's internist had increased his antidepressant Rx dosage at least twice, and it was looking like a third increase was pending, and the internist was starting to raise his eyebrows.
Husband was this weird combination of OVER IT and still, not wanting to throw in the towel.
But this could NOT go on.
We started working on the exit strategy.
And as we started to do that, it sort of shook me out of my own stupor. The process of planning for the next stage of life made me think about what I actually wanted out of life.
I decided that *I really missed sex* and that *I wanted sex,* and that was normal and OK. What wasn't OK? THE LIFE THAT WE WERE LIVING. NOT NORMAL. NOT OK. (But I'm betting that it's a shat ton more common than we all discuss.)
Anyway, I became much more demanding and advocating for a full marriage or I was out.
Husband approached internist about the ED issue again, this time pointing out that he'd done counseling, and he'd done antidepressants, and his libido and his actual dick were deader than dead.
Here's a HUGE RED FLAG:
Instead of farming this very specific issue out to a specialist, internist attempted to treat it in house, himself, with topical testosterone gel and an absolutely miserly prescription for Cialis. Like, 10 pills per Rx. Ten. 10. LIKE, WHAT??? WE MIGHT GO CRAZY AND HAVE TOO MUCH SEX???
But, my husband was trying, he was extending in this area. He was bonded with this internist and he was under enough stress with work without me demanding that he uproot his entire medical infrastructure as well.
At about two years in, with life and hair on fire work still ongoing, I realized that the topical testosterone was producing zilch zero nada nothing.
I once again pushed and pushed hard- and this time I started doing my own research. I also pulled all of Husband's medical records and lab results and started charting, literally charting his blood testosterone levels since he started using the topical testosterone. There was no real improvement in his testosterone levels over time, which was supported by the lack of sex at home.
I read everything I could get my hands/eyes on: clinical information, scholarly papers, medical journals and articles, forum/message boards, works aimed at consumers and lay persons, everything.
I soon learned that topicals don't always work. There are many, many variables, including basic body chemistry, skin type/absorbency, etc. etc.
For the guys for whom it works, it works.
For the guys for whom it does not work, it does not work.
My husband's lab results and his absence of function supported this.
I got up in the internist's face, through Husband (the dr./patient relationship was still between the two of them) and demanded answers and some alternative treatment.
This was a few years ago, and treatments for ED were *just beginning* to be advertised widely in the mainstream media.
Internist responded by digging in his heels. HE was the dr. here!
OK DUDE, I HEAR YOU. SO *BE* THE DOCTOR HERE, PLEASE.
Unrelated, it was approximately in *this* time frame that DDay2 dropped.
I boomeranged right back into self doubts and "Maybe you're just not attracted to your wife" territory.
My marbles scattered across the floor big time.
And we were still dealing with that insane fucking job and now an internist who was being a stubborn ass.
I damned near lost it.
I put myself in therapy, briefly, just to get by. It was that bad. =(
Internist proposed *a very, very conservative* incremental increase in the very same topical testosterone gel! and still with the miserly Cialis Rx. He was proposing these tiny incremental increases of the exact medication that *clearly wasn't working,* accompanied by an equally miserly testing schedule. He wasn't even going to test for increasing testosterone levels for MONTHS.
In the meantime, he did another lab test for blood testosterone levels.
When the results came back, Husband and I were stunned:
My healthy husband was in his 50s, and he had a blood testosterone level LOWER than that of A 94 YEAR OLD MAN. How much lower? To what age did my husband's blood testosterone level correlate? WE DON'T KNOW. EVERY CHART WE COULD FIND STOPPED AT TESTOSTERONE LEVELS HIGHER THAN HUSBAND'S TESTOSTERONE LEVEL. The chart that came the closest to my husband's testosterone level stopped at age 94- and Husband's testosterone level was LOWER THAN THAT VALUE.
To say that I was *DONE* with Dr. Internist was an understatement.
By this point I was up to my ears in information so it was a relatively easy jump for me to find a urologist or three in a local, well established group, who deal with this specific area of practice. I made the appointments for Husband myself.
We then learned that one of the complications of topical testosterone, when there are absorption/bioavailability problems, is that the body can absorb, process and register just enough testosterone supplementation to shut down or limit the body's own production, but there's not enough bioavailability with the topical testosterone to make a difference in functional testosterone levels. One can end up with a further drop in blood testosterone levels, which, obviously, Husband experienced. =( =(
The urologist stopped ALL testosterone treatments for a few weeks to allow Husband to get down to a baseline testosterone reading, which, not surprisingly, was shockingly low.
We had all records transferred to the urologist, and we also gave him the blood level charting that I'd done of timeline vs. topical testosterone dosage vs. blood testosterone levels. The urologist specifically complimented me for taking the initiative, and asked to keep the chart as part of Husband's medical record. It gives a succinct visual of history, treatment and response prior to the urologist taking over care.
Within a few weeks, Husband was on a regimen of subcutaneous testosterone injections that he administers himself at home. He gives himself one injection a week. He also has a generous and quite affordable Rx for generic Viagra.
The injectable testosterone is far, far less expensive than the topical steroid.
It worked almost immediately.
I mean, it *works.*
And the effects are not limited to Husband's dick functioning, nor even just to his libido. His overall feeling of well-being and energy and attitude improved significantly and almost immediately.
Husband was still working at that crazy assed job, and had in fact given his notice, when this injectable testosterone regimen began.
Husband actually stopped ALL antidepressant therapy (under medical supervision by same internist) and was completely free of antidepressants, while getting to the finish line with that stressful job, which of course became even *more* stressful once he gave his notice.
And we were in the 3 year time frame post DDay2 while all of this was going on.
Husband negotiated this territory completely free of antidepressants. It wasn't perfect but honestly he often held it together better than I did.
We are both now convinced that the problem was low testosterone all along, from his mid 30s on.
No idea why the initial drop in testosterone.
Per above, it wasn't a matter of poor physical condition nor of underlying or contributing disease processes.
As far as the generic Viagra goes,
well, it's Viagra. :) :)
Husband's equipment works just fine, that's not an issue, but years of coping with mishandled ED leaves its own psychological and emotional scars.
Husband is a healthy man who has no mitigating risk factors for using Viagra.
If it gives him that little extra bit of confidence and 'insurance' that 'things' will work, peace. We both enjoy it. :) :)
We are in our early 60s.
Our sex life is easily what it was in our early 30s, before all of these problems and issues hit us.
One thing I discovered during my initial reading and research, when it became obvious that the 'help' we were receiving at the time was inadequate, is that infidelity is often an unfortunate side effect of ED issues. =( =(
It probably seems a given that partners of those struggling with the onset of ED might stray for various reasons.
Surprisingly, men suffering from the onset of ED often stray, in a misguided attempt to figure out, consciously or semi-consciously or even unconsciously, why their junk is no longer working as expected.
It may not be as clear of a thought process as, 'Maybe strange will work...' or it could be. Or something in between.
TL;DR: ED and testosterone issues can and do occur in younger men.
IMHO, it's worth consultation and testing.
NOTE: blood hormone levels can be notoriously fickle. A single test is a snapshot in time. It may not give an accurate overall picture. If one test is 'normal' but Mr. Happy is still a Sad Sausage, and the weather between you is OK enough, GET ANOTHER TEST, OR THREE.
In my own personal situation, I hit menopause in my late 40s, about age 48 or 49. My gyn dr, whom I personally chose out of our community because of her depth of experience and education, took a blood hormone test at my annual appointment and declared me NOT IN MENOPAUSE. NOT EVEN PERIMENOPAUSAL.
I DECLARED HER WRONG. I WAS IN MENOPAUSE AND I DAMNED WELL KNEW IT.
We went on like this for another year or two.
*Finally,* after the third blood test, she called me at home.
"OMG YOU WERE RIGHT. YOU WERE IN MENOPAUSE. GUESS WHAT??? YOU'RE NOT IN MENOPAUSE ANYMORE. YOU'RE COMPLETELY DONE!" LOL.
So yeah, two of my three blood tests showed 'normal' hormone levels for my age- *at that precise moment.* My physical symptoms told the tale and the third blood test confirmed it.
I AM NOT A PHYSICIAN AND ALL OF THIS INFORMATION AND DISCOURSE IS WAY BEYOND MY SCOPE OF PRACTICE, BEYOND MY EDUCATION AND BEYOND MY PAY GRADE. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN. YMMV.
[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 5:41 AM, Wednesday, October 13th]