What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) is a condition that prevents males from getting and keeping an erection hard enough for sexual activity. Some trouble with erections once in a while is not necessarily a reason to worry. But if such problems persist long enough, it can result in stress, relationship difficulties, as well as low self-esteem.

Another problem erectile dysfunction poses is that it is uncomfortable for many men to tell their doctors about something like this. However it is best to tell them as soon as possible, as erectile problems can mean that there might be something wrong with the individual's health, like a heart disease or diabetes.

Sometimes, treating a serious health problem will make erectile dysfunction disappear, but if it does not, you will need to use medications and treatments meant specifically to cure this condition.

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

Symptoms that can show that an individual is suffering from erectile dysfunction include:

  • ·Difficulty getting an erection
  • ·Difficulty maintaining an erection
  • ·Reduced desire for sexual activity

A good place to start in this case would be to see your family doctor. Seek medical assistance from your doctor if:

  • You or your partner are suffering as a result of erectile or other sexual problems
  • You are suffering from health problems like diabetes or heart disease
  • You have unrelated symptoms which may or may not be related to this condition

Causes of erectile dysfunction

Male sexual stimulation is a very complicated process, which involves the brain, the nervous system, muscles, blood vessels, hormones and even emotions. The condition known as erectile dysfunction can be a result of a problem with any component of sexual arousal.

Moreover, stress and problems with mental health can also cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Pretty often, erectile dysfunction is caused by a combination of various physical and psychological problems. For example, a small physical problem that slows a person's sexual response may also cause anxiety about keeping an erection.

Common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • ·Heart diseases


  • ·Increased blood pressure
  • ·Obesity
  • ·Diabetes
  • ·Metabolic syndrome
  • ·Parkinson's disease
  • ·Low testosterone levels
  • ·Peyronie's disease
  • ·Some prescription medications
  • ·Use of tobacco
  • ·Abuse of alcohol and other substances
  • ·Prostate cancer
  • ·Surgeries or injuries affecting the pelvic area or the spinal cord

Common psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • ·Depression or anxiety
  • ·Fatigue
  • ·Stress
  • ·Relationship problems

Risk factors

As men become older, erections may become weaker and develop more slowly. However, this isn't a direct consequence of aging. Usually this is the result of health problems or medication effects, which become more apparent as men age.

Risk factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction include:

  • ·Medical conditions, like diabetes or heart diseases.
  • ·Using tobacco. Tobacco use can restrict the blood flow to arteries and veins, and can cause various chronic health problems.
  • ·Obesity. The more you are overweight, the greater the chance of erectile dysfunction.
  • ·Some medical treatments, like radiation treatment for cancer or prostate surgery.
  • ·Injuries, especially in case of damage in nerves that control erections.
  • ·Medications, for example drugs for treatment of increased blood pressure, pain and prostate cancer.
  • ·Psychological conditions, including stress, depression or anxiety.
  • ·Use of drugs and alcohol. Extensive use can be especially harmful.
  • ·Prolonged bicycling. This can result in compressed nerves and will negatively affect blood flow to the penis.


As we can see, erectile dysfunction can be a serious condition, which can result in various complications in a person's life. These include: stress and anxiety, problems with sex life, damage to a person's self-esteem, family problems, inability to get children and, potentially, much more.

If you feel you have any symptoms associated with this condition, it is important to overcome the embarrassment one might feel when reporting something like this to a doctor and seek medical help immediately.