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What's to know about erectile dysfunction?

By: Medically reviewed by Justin Choi, M.D. — Written by Markus MacGill
Source: Medical News Today
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A man is considered to have erectile dysfunction if he regularly finds it difficult getting or keeping a firm enough erection to be able to have sex, or if it interferes with other sexual activity.

Most men have occasionally experienced some difficulty with their penis becoming hard or staying firm. However, erectile dysfunction (ED) is only considered a concern if satisfactory sexual performance has been impossible on a number of occasions for some time.

Since the discovery that the drug sildenafil, or Viagra, affected penile erections, most people have become aware that ED is a treatable medical condition.

Men who have a problem with their sexual performance may be reluctant to talk with their doctor, seeing it can be an embarrassing issue.31

However, ED is now well understood, and there are various treatments available.

This MNT Knowledge Center article offers helpful information for people experiencing this problem, or those close to them.
Fast facts on erectile dysfunction:

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as persistent difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection sufficient to have sex.
Causes are usually medical but can also be psychological.
Organic causes are usually the result of an underlying medical condition affecting the blood vessels or nerves supplying the penis.
Numerous prescription drugs, recreational drugs, alcohol, and smoking, can all cause ED.


Normal erectile function can be affected by problems with any of the following systems:

blood flow
nerve supply

Physical causes
Erectile dysfunction can cause embarrassment.

It is always worth consulting a physician about persistent erection problems, as it could be caused by a serious medical condition.

Whether the cause is simple or serious, a proper diagnosis can help to address any underlying medical issues and help resolve sexual difficulties.

The following list summarizes many of the most common physical or organic causes of ED:

heart disease and narrowing of blood vessels
high blood pressure
high cholesterol
obesity and metabolic syndrome
Parkinson’s disease
multiple sclerosis
hormonal disorders including thyroid conditions and testosterone deficiency
structural or anatomical disorder of the penis, such as Peyronie disease
smoking, alcoholism, and substance abuse, including cocaine use
treatments for prostate disease
surgical complications
injuries in the pelvic area or spinal cord
radiation therapy to the pelvic region

Atherosclerosis is a common cause of blood flow problems. Atherosclerosis causes a narrowing or clogging of arteries in the penis, preventing the necessary blood flow to the penis to produce an erection.

Numerous prescription medications can also cause ED, including those below. Anyone taking prescription medications should consult their doctor before stopping or changing their medications:




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