What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s also sometimes referred to as impotence.
Occasional ED isn’t uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. Frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment. It can also be a sign of emotional or relationship difficulties that may need to be addressed by a professional.
Not all male sexual problems are caused by ED. Other types of male sexual dysfunction include:
delayed or absent ejaculation
lack of interest in sex
What are the symptoms of ED?
You may have erectile dysfunction if you regularly have:
trouble getting an erection
difficulty maintaining an erection during sexual activities
reduced interest in sex
Other sexual disorders related to ED include:
anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm after ample stimulation
You should talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they’ve lasted for two or more months. Your doctor can determine if your sexual disorder is caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment.
What causes ED?
There are many possible causes for ED, and they can include both emotional and physical disorders. Some common causes are:
damage from cancer or surgery
obesity or being overweight
ED can be caused by only one of these factors or several. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor so that they can rule out or treat any underlying medical conditions.
What causes an erection?
An erection is the result of increased blood flow into your penis. Blood flow is usually stimulated by either sexual thoughts or direct contact with your penis.
When a man becomes sexually excited, muscles in their penis relax. This relaxation allows for increased blood flow through the penile arteries. This blood fills two chambers inside the penis called the corpora cavernosa. As the chambers fill with blood, the penis grows rigid. Erection ends when the muscles contract and the accumulated blood can flow out through the penile veins.
ED can occur because of problems at any stage of the erection process. For example, the penile arteries may be too damaged to open properly and allow blood in.
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