If my erection is soft, does that mean I have erectile dysfunction?

Erectile problems happen, and they happen more often than we usually talk about. Just about every man will experience the occasional problem getting or maintaining an erection. In many cases, it is a fleeting, situational event that shouldn't be cause for concern, and doesn't indicate a lack of attraction to a partner or loss of sexual function. In other cases, erection problems may signal a health problem -- why ongoing erection problems should always be brought to the attention of a health care provider. Ongoing erectile problems can damage a man's self-esteem, his partner's self-esteem and the relationship -- particularly if they don't talk about the issue together, leaving each of them alone to wonder what they might be doing wrong. Discuss sexual problems with each other so they don't turn into larger issues.

Erectile problems that happen every now and then are not a problem, unless the couple considers it a problem. Erectile problems that happen in more than 25 percent of sexual encounters over a period of time may be considered erectile dysfunction (ED), though healthcare providers typically ask men a range of questions and may perform tests to rule out health conditions before making such a diagnosis. As with any sexual function complaint, ED is not a problem unless a man or his partner considers it to be. However, because of the association between ED and heart disease, a man should always tell his healthcare provider about erectile problems so that he or she can rule out other health conditions.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
You don’t have to have a rock-hard erection like American Pie to have a satisfying sex life. You just need to be able to have an erection that is hard enough for you to enter a woman, enjoy yourself, and ejaculate. If you can do that, it’s not erectile dysfunction (ED). Every man has times when his soldier won’t salute. Calm down! That’s normal. But if you can’t get and stay hard enough to penetrate and have sex (come one, come all) half the time or more, you may have ED. It’s time to have that talk with your doctor. You may have an underlying health problem, or be taking a new medication with this unfortunate side effect. Fortunately, ED is treatable, so seek medical help.

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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.