What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction, or impotence, is when a man cannot achieve and/or maintain an erection.

Problems with erections may happen from time to time to any healthy male, but if this is a frequent occurrence, it could be a sign of ED. If the problem is persistent enough to cause anxiety and embarrassment to the man, put strain on a sexual relationship, or is accompanied by other health problems, seeking the help of a physician may be the best option. Erectile Dysfunction has many causes and symptoms, and can be treated in a number of ways. The following sections detail the signs or ED, possible causes, and treatment options.

Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms

A common misconception of Erectile Dysfunction is that the sufferer cannot achieve an erection at all. This is false, and oversimplifies the issue. In fact, ED is a much more complicated medical condition with numerous factors that may cause absent or failing erections. Erectile Dysfunction will present itself in the following ways:

  • Inability to achieve an erection preceding sexual activity
  • Problems maintaining an erection during sexual activity
  • Loss or decrease in sexual drive or desire

Any or all of these symptoms can happen to any man, any time. An occasional erection problem or lack of want is normal and should not be a cause for concern. However, chronic erection issues are a definite red flag that something else is going on. The problem could be physical or psychological. This is especially true if another health issue is present. Many illnesses and medications may lead to erection loss.

A visit to the doctor is recommended when:

  • The inability to engage in sexual activities is hindering a sexual relationship or causing friction or stress between partners
  • The Erectile Dysfunction is present along with another health issue like heart disease or diabetes
  • The sufferer is taking medication regularly
  • Other symptoms are present that cannot be explained

A physician can determine the best course of action to approach this problem, and restore proper sexual function. Though it is common for some embarrassment among patients with this issue, it should be viewed as a biological function. There is no embarrassment in desiring to be healthy.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction has a wide spectrum of causes ranging from poor health to diet. Once ED is identified in a patient, the next step is to discover the underlying cause. This may not be an easy task. Sometimes to cause is straightforward, but at other times, the cause can be difficult to uncover or several factors have conspired to create the problem. Possible causes can be broken into several categories.


  • Exhaustion
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Obesity
  • Atherosclerosis (blocked blood vessels)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Prostate Cancer and Treatment
  • Surgery or Injuries to the Spinal Cord, Penis, Testicles, or Bladder


  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Conflicts


  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • Diet Pills
  • Tranquilizers


  • Alcohol Use
  • Cocaine Use
  • Diet
  • Minimal Physical Activity
  • Smoking


Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction can vary greatly. This is due to the many possible causes of the condition. Treatment may be a lifestyle change, a medication to treat an underlying illness, a change in medication to alleviate ED as a symptom, or a number of other options. Treatments can include a single method or a combination of two or more, depending on the cause.

Possible Treatments:

  • Supplements
  • ED Medications (Viagra and the like)
  • Hormone Therapy or Testosterone Replacement
  • Aid of a penis pump or vacuum
  • Penile Implant or Other Surgery
  • Session with a Psychologist or Sex Therapist
  • ED Diet (diet heavy in fresh produce, less fat, alcohol in moderation)
  • Weight Loss
  • Quitting Smoking or Drug Use