Erectile dysfunction is a condition that occurs when you are unable to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual activity. In some cases, men who experience ED are unable to get an erection at all, while others are unable to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. Many people will experience difficulties with their erections from time to time; however, you should seek help from a medical professional if it is a frequent and ongoing issue. Erectile dysfunction may also be a sign of an underlying health problem or a risk factor for heart disease.
Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction
The most common symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:
- Reduced desire to have sex
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Difficulty maintaining an erection hard enough for sex
Erectile Dysfunction Causes
The prevalence of ED cases can be attributed to aging. However, men of all ages experience sexual dysfunction caused by a wide range of health conditions. There are several physical factors and health concerns that may cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Aside from age, common causes of ED include:
- Poor vascular health (heart disease, high blood pressure, lack of blood flow)
- Substance abuse
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Psychological problems (such as depression or anxiety)
- Peyronie's disease (scar tissue inside the penis)
- Spinal cord injuries
Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction
There are several risk factors that may contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction. These include:
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease can increase your risk of developing sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.
- Substance/ alcohol use: Drug and alcohol abuse has been linked to the development of erectile dysfunction.
- Tobacco use: Smoking tobacco constricts blood vessels, which can make it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for sex.
- Obesity: Being overweight or having obesity has been linked to the development of sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.
- Medication use: Certain medications, like some antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, antihypertensives (blood pressure medication), and medications for an irregular heartbeat have been liked to erectile dysfunction.