What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual
intercourse. It is sometimes referred to as impotence, although this term is now used less.
Occasional ED is not uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Frequent ED, however,
can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or
relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.
There are many possible causes of ED, and they can include both emotional and physical conditions.
- cardiovascular disease
- hypertension, or high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- low testosterone levels or other hormone imbalances
- kidney disease
- increased age stress
- relationship problems
- certain prescription medications, such as those used to treat high
blood pressure or depression
- sleep disorders
- drug use
- consuming too much alcohol
- using tobacco products
- certain health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple
- damage to the pelvic area through injury or surgery
ED can be caused by only one of these factors or by several of them. That is why it’s important to
work with your doctor so that they can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions.
What you should know
ED can occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. An erection is the result of
increased blood flow into your penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by either sexual thoughts or
direct contact with your penis.
When a man is sexually excited, muscles in the penis relax. This allows for increased blood flow
through the penile arteries, filling two chambers inside the penis. As the chambers fill with blood,
the penis grows rigid.
An erection ends when the muscles contract and the accumulated blood can flow out through the penile
Treatment for ED will depend on the underlying cause. You may need to use a combination of
treatments, including medication or talk therapy. The doctor may prescribe medication to help you
manage the symptoms of ED. You may need to try several medications before you find one that