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

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.
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. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Don't panic. Soft erections do not mean guy has erectile dysfunction (ED), or the inability to get and maintain an erection during sex. Just because your erection is not hard as steel, like in the good old days, doesn't mean you can't have a sizzling sex life. If you can rise to the occasion enough to have and enjoy sex, then you don't have ED. Life can get in the way of a rock-hard erection: stress, anxiety, and outside factors play a role. Once these problems are managed, you should return to smooth sailing in the bedroom. But, and there is always a but, continued problems getting or keeping an erection may indicate a health condition such as diabetes or the side effects of a medication. Bite the bullet and talk with your doctor about your problem.

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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.