What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a condition that affects many men and involves difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection sufficient to participate in sexual activity. It is sometimes shortened to ED and can also be called impotence.

All men may experience difficulty in getting an erection from time to time, but those who have ED have problems on an ongoing basis. These problems can begin to build up pressure on men and their partners, as they go through the uncertain period in the sexual activity.

Who is affected?

It is not uncommon for men to suffer from ED. As many as 1 in 5 of all men over the age of twenty suffer from the condition and as men age it becomes more likely that they will be affected. The vast majority (85%) of men have problems of impotence over the age of 80.

Whilst anyone can suffer from ED, men with some particular medical conditions are more likely to be affected. These include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid or hormone imbalances
  • Nervous system conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease)
  • Substance overuse
  • Psychological causes

If you are experiencing difficulty in getting or keeping an erect penis for sex and suffer from one or more of these conditions, it is worthwhile to see your doctor and discuss how these conditions can be better managed before seeking medical treatment for ED.

Secondary Effects

In addition to being distressful for males who are affected by ED, the partners of those who suffer also experience the effects. This can create tension in relationships and lead to insecurities and difficulty in the way couples interact.

If problems continue, psychological issues such as a complex about having an erection can develop, which can make the initial problem worse. It is for this reason that you should try to address any symptoms of erectile dysfunction as soon as possible. You can then improve the situation at hand whilst reducing the need for further intervention later.

How does it occur?

There are many processes that usually need to occur in order for a man to have and erection. If there are problems with any of these steps, it is likely that men will experience problems in getting an erect penis.

Your brain receives messages from your senses about what you see, smell, hear and feel by your nerves. It then responds by sending hormonal messages to the muscles and blood vessels in you body. This causes the blood vessels in the penis to enlarge and allow more blood to pass through. Finally, the additional blood flow provides the penis with what is needed for an erection.

As you can see, it is a complicated process that involves your senses, nerves, brain, hormones, blood circulation and penis. If any of these aren’t functioning correctly, it can lead to problems with getting an erection.

What can you do?

Fortunately, we have many options on hand in the current society and men who suffer from ED are by no means without hope.

The first step is to think about any possible causes that may be affecting you and, if possible, address them so that they no longer pose problems.

Next, you can consider physical exercises to do with your penis, called pelvic floor exercises, that have been shown to improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction in 75% of all men. These are a great option for those just beginning to experience symptoms and are looking to regain control over their erection completely.

Finally, we are fortunate in the current society to have several medications available to us that can greatly help in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These are a relatively new discovery and are a great benefit to men who suffer from the condition.

Medical Treatment

There are two main types of medical treatment for erectile dysfunction: as-needed medication and medication to be taken on a daily basis.

There are several different brands of as-needed medication that contain different drugs, but each of these work in the same way. They help to increase the blood flow to the penis, which then helps to allow an erection to occur. They take less than half an hour to work and, for the majority, the effect lasts about 4-6 hours. It is for this reason they work well to be taken as needed because the effect lasts for a suitable amount of time.

There is currently only one medication available for daily use. This works in the same way as the other types of medications, but is given at a lower dose and slowly builds up over time to allow men ongoing coverage against ED. Many men prefer this as there is no need to time doses according to when you plan to have sex, but it is very much an individual preference.


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