What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is relatively common penis health problem among men but the frequency and severity of the problem increases with age. This article addresses the following topics:

There are number of erectile treatment options available and there is a good chance of fixing erectile dysfunction with the right treatment.

Definition – What Is Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (or impotence as some call it) can be defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse.
Many specialists though feel this is too narrow definition. Instead of focusing on sexual intercourse, we should be focusing on satisfying sexual activity. Based on this, the definition of what is erectile dysfunction would be:

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfying sexual activity

Nb. erection problems usually do not affect man's sex drive, i.e. loss of libido is a separate penis health problem.

The Causes Of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is not a disease as such. It is a symptom of other problems, usually physical health problems, like heart disease or diabetes. There is also psychological erectile dysfunction, i.e. when the erection problems have psychological causes.

Actually, erection problems are often the combination of both, i.e. have physical and psychological roots. What starts as an erection problem because of underlying health problem (e.g. high blood pressure) can make men nervous about their performance in bed and as a result make it more difficult for them to achieve satisfying erection.

Erectile dysfunction is believed to have physical causes in 80-90% of the cases, especially in older men. Address the underlying physical problem and you are addressing the erection dysfunction as well

Sometimes that is all that is needed, especially if you address the problem early on, i.e. before it starts to seriously affect you psychologically.

The following table shows some known erectile dysfunction causes.

Physical Erectile Dysfunction

Health Problems

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Bowel Surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Narrowing Of Arteries (Atherosclerosis)
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pelvic Trauma
  • Peyronie's Disease
  • Prostate Surgery
  • Renal Failure
  • Sleeping Disorders (Sleep Apnea)
  • Spinal Cord Trauma
  • Surgical Damage To Blood Vessels


  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Abuse Drug Abuse
  • Medication *

Psychological Erectile Dysfunction

  • Anxiety / Stress **
  • Depression
  • Psychiatric Problems
  • Relationship Problems
  • Sexual Attitude

* Some medication can affect the erectile health, including some medication used to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate cancer, depression, psychiatric disorders, etc.

** For example, performance anxiety, financial worries, work related pressures, etc.

How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Occasional erection dysfunction is normal, e.g. because of temporary stressful situations or excess intake of alcohol. However, when erection problems start occurring on regular basis, then you have penis health problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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There are different levels of impotence, from minimal, moderate to complete inability to have and maintain an erection.

Erectile problems can affect men of any age but they are more common among older men. It is generally believed that by the age of 45, most men have experienced some form of erectile dysfunction at least some of the time (MedicineNet.com).

One of the largest and best known study into the frequency of erectile dysfunction is the Massachusetts Male Aging Study Opens in new window symbol that concluded that 52% of respondents (1,709 men, age between 40 and 70 years) reported some degree of impotence (17% mild, 25% moderate and 10% complete).

The frequency and severity increased with age, i.e. 39% of men at the age of 40 reported some degree of impotence compared to 67% of men at the age of 70. Complete impotence tripled with age, i.e. from 5% in 40 years old to 15% in 70 years old.

The study also showed erectile dysfunction to be strongly associated with treated heart disease (quadrupling), diabetes (tripling) and smoking (doubling prevalence in association with chronic disease).

What Can You Do To Prevent Getting Erectile Dysfunction?

There is no proven way to prevent getting erectile dysfunction. However, the healthier you are, the less likely it is that you will be experiencing erection problems in the future.

The best prevention is therefore healthy lifestyle, i.e. regular exercise, balanced diet and regular health checks, i.e. addressing all health concerns as soon as possible.

Why Addressing Erectile Dysfunction Is Important?

There are many reasons why you should address any erection concerns as soon as possible. Obviously, you will want to be able to continue enjoying satisfying sexual activity. The sooner you address your erectile problem the better chance you got of resolving it.

As importantly, penis hardness is one of the best indicators of man's overall health. Addressing your erection problems can literally save your life.

Weak erections can also lead to additional penis health problems, e.g. increase the change of penis injury, which can result in Peyronie's disease.

Erectile health monitors

Erectile health monitor is an excellent way of keeping track of your erectile health. Because fixing erectile dysfunction is easier the sooner you realize you have a problem.

You should see a doctor as soon as you experience regular erection problems and discuss the various erectile dysfunction treatments available to you.