Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has trouble getting or keeping an erection. Getting more exercise, losing weight, or stopping smoking may help ED, and medications are available to treat ED.
Erectile Dysfunction Overview
Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, is the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex. It is a common type of male sexual dysfunction. ED becomes more common as men get older, but it is not a natural part of aging.
Having erection trouble from time to time is not necessarily a cause for concern. If ED is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect self-confidence, and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection also can be a sign of an underlaying health condition that needs treatment and is a risk factor for heart disease.
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 blood vessels are clogged or nerves are damaged.
There are 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.
Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms
ED symptoms might include:
Erectile Dysfunction Causes
ED may be caused by a combination of physical and psychological issues. 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.
In most cases, erectile dysfunction is caused by something physical. Common causes include:
The brain plays a key role in sexual arousal and the physical events that cause an erection. A number of things can interfere with sexual feelings and cause or worsen ED. These include:
Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosis
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and a medical history to diagnose ED and recommend a treatment. If you have chronic health conditions or your doctor suspects that an underlying condition might be involved, you might need further tests or a consultation with a specialist.
Tests for underlying conditions might include:
Living With Erectile Dysfunction
Complications resulting from erectile dysfunction can include:
For many men, ED is caused or worsened by lifestyle choices. They can take steps and make choices that might help improve symptoms of ED.