What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Estimates suggest that one of every 10 men will suffer from ED at some point during his lifetime. It is important to understand that in most cases,
ED is a symptom of another, underlying problem. ED is not considered normal at any age, and may be associated with other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse, such as lack of desire and problems with orgasm and ejaculation.
Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
How common is erectile dysfunction?
- Approximately one in 10 adult males will suffer from ED on a long-term basis.
- Many men do experience occasional failure to achieve erection, which can occur for a variety of reasons, such as drinking too much alcohol, stress, relationship problems, or from being extremely tired.
- The failure to get an erection less than 20% of the time is not unusual and typically does not require treatment. However, the failure to achieve an erection more than 50% of the time generally means that there is a problem and treatment is needed.
- ED does not have to be a part of getting older. While it is true that some older men may need more stimulation, they should still be able to achieve an erection and enjoy intercourse.
As you get older, erections might take longer to develop and might not be as firm. You might need more direct touch to your penis to get and keep an erection.
- Various risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including:
- Medical conditions, particularly diabetes or heart conditions
- Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to veins and arteries, can — over time — cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction
- Being overweight, especially if you’re obese
- Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or radiation treatment for cancer
- Injuries, particularly if they damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
- Medications, including antidepressants, antihistamines and medications to treat high blood pressure, pain or prostate conditions
- Psychological conditions, such as stress, anxiety or depression
- Illegal drugs and alcohol use, especially if you’re a long-term drug user or heavy drinker
Complications & Psychological causes resulting from erectile dysfunction can include:
Psychological or emotional factors may make ED worse. You may develop ED if you have one or more of the following:
- An unsatisfactory sex life
- Embarrassment or low self-esteem
- The inability to get your partner pregnant
- Fear of sexual failure
- Guilt about sexual performance or certain sexual activities
- Stress—about sexual performance, Relationship problems or stress in your life in general
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health conditions. For example:
- Work with your doctor to manage diabetes, heart disease or other chronic health conditions.
- See your doctor for regular checkups and medical screening tests.
- Stop smoking, limit or avoid alcohol, and don’t use illegal drugs.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take steps to reduce stress.
- Get help for anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.
Some people have trouble speaking with their doctors about sex. But if you have ed, you should tell your doctor. Ed can be a sign of health problems. It may mean your blood vessels are clogged. It may mean you have nerve damage from diabetes. If you don’t see your doctor, these problems will go untreated. Your doctor can offer several new treatments for ed. For many men, the answer is as simple as taking a pill. Getting more exercise, losing weight or stopping smoking may also help.
Kumaran Medical Center