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What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called "impotence," is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. The word "impotence" may also be used to describe other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse and reproduction, such as lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation or orgasm. Using the term erectile dysfunction makes it clear that those other problems are not involved.

In older men, ED usually has a physical cause, such as disease, injury or side effects of drugs. Any disorder that causes injury to the nerves or impairs blood flow in the penis has the potential to cause ED. Incidence increases with age: About 4% of men in their 50s and about 17% of men in their 60s experience a total inability to get an erection; the incidence jumps to 47% for men over 75. But ED is not an inevitable part of aging.

ED is treatable at any age, and awareness of this fact has been growing. More men have been seeking help and returning to normal sexual activity because of improved, successful treatments for ED.

Erectile dysfunction is a recurrent, consistent inability for a man to achieve or maintain an erection, which is sufficient for sexual performance. Watch as urologist Andrew Kramer, MD, describes the various aspects and frustrations related to ED.

Over thirty million men in the United States experience erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction (ED), which sometimes is called impotence, is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity. Occasional incidents of erectile dysfunction happen to most men at some point in their lifetimes. While years ago it was thought that ED was a psychological disorder, specialists now know that it is often connected to the general health of a man's blood vessels and nerves. ED is connected to the metabolic syndrome of obesity, high blood pressure, (pre-)diabetes and bad cholesterol profile, and it is seen as a harbinger of future cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.
Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Failure to get an erection after too many drinks or during a week of intense stress doesn't constitute erectile dysfunction. Also, normal changes in your sexual response as you age -- such as having to wait a longer time after orgasm to have another erection or needing more direct stimulation -- don't necessarily fall under this heading.

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse at least 25% of the time. The penis doesn't get hard enough, or it gets hard but softens too soon. The problem generally comes on gradually. When such difficulties occur regularly and distress you or your partner, it's time to talk to your healthcare provider.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem in men with heart disease. It is the repeated inability to obtain and maintain an erection of the penis. The inability to obtain an erection now and then is not necessarily cause for concern. But an ongoing problem can significantly affect your quality of life. Even more importantly, ED can sometimes be the first sign of a larger health problem, such as heart disease or diabetes.

If you have concerns about ED, talk with your healthcare provider about possible causes and treatment options.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem in men with heart disease. It is the repeated inability to obtain and maintain an erection of the penis. The inability to obtain an erection now and then is not necessarily cause for concern. But an ongoing problem can significantly affect your quality of life. Even more importantly, ED can sometimes be the first sign of a larger health problem, such as heart disease or diabetes.

If you have concerns about ED, talk with your healthcare provider about possible causes and treatment options.

Erectile dysfunction is the inability for a male to either have an erection or maintain an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
You can think of erectile dysfunction, or ED, as a power shortage below the belt. The problem occurs when a man has trouble getting or maintaining an erection. Any guy can have a bad day now and then, so an occasional bout with erectile dysfunction is nothing to worry about. But erectile dysfunction is not a natural or inevitable part of aging. If you're experiencing frequent failure down under, talk to your doctor.
Harris H. McIlwain, MD
Rheumatology

Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the inability to maintain an erection that is firm enough or that lasts long enough to have successful sexual intercourse. It is a frustrating condition that may have psychological, medical or physical causes. Nonetheless, there are many types of sexual dysfunction that may be confused with impotence.

Impotence does not mean premature ejaculation, low sex drive, or infertility. It is not caused by masturbation or too much sex earlier in life. While impotence is common with most men sometimes in their lives, it is not normal and can be easily treated.

Unofficial Guide to Impotence

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Unofficial Guide to Impotence

The Unofficial Guide to Conquering Impotence delivers the inside scoop on impotence: the truth about Viagra, what treatments really work, and how lifestyle changes can aid in conquering...

Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man can't get or keep an erection that's hard or long enough to have sex. Every man occasionally experiences the inability to get an erection, and that's perfectly normal. However, if it's something that happens frequently, it's called erectile dysfunction (ED). ED can be caused by a number of physical and psychological factors, and its symptoms can range from mild to severe. Fortunately, there are many options for treating this condition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.