Have friend in 40's; told has bulging disc; told also by 2 doctors would need surgery to correct. Is this true or is there more options?

? pain in legs? Does your friend have leg pain that can be associated with the spinal level with the disc bulge? If you take 100 40 year olds with no back pain, 30 of them will have bulging discs. If you have leg pain that correlates with the disc bulges, your odds of good surgical result are improved. Recent studies report not much difference between surgery and no surgery 5 years out.
Bulging disks. There are other options. Most spine specialists will attempt to do a steroid injection to the spine before trying surgery. There is very little downside to this (except that it may not work), and it is far less drastic than spine surgery. Your friend should ask his/her physician about this option.