Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a type of sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction can have psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and self-image.
A physical cause can be identified in about 80% of cases. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, neurological problems such as following prostatectomy, hypogonadism, and drug side effects. Psychological impotence is where erection or penetration fails due to thoughts or feelings; this is somewhat less frequent, in the order of about 10% of cases. In psychological impotence, there is a strong response to placebo treatment.
Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your sexual response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Complications resulting from erectile dysfunction can include: An unsatisfactory sex life, Stress or anxiety, Embarrassment or low self-esteem, Relationship problems, The inability to get your partner pregnant.
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to make healthy lifestyle choices and to manage any existing health conditions. For example: Work with your doctor to manage diabetes, heart disease or other chronic health conditions, Stop smoking, limit or avoid alcohol, and don’t use illegal drugs, Exercise regularly, Take steps to reduce stress, Get help for anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.