Males experiencing erectile dysfunction or impotence are incapable of getting and keeping an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Occasional erection problems are not a cause for concern. However, if the problem is ongoing, it may cause stress, insecurity and relationship problems.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include trouble getting or keeping an erection and decreased sexual desire.
Male sexual arousal is a multifaceted process involving the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, emotions and blood vessels. A problem with any of these elements can cause erectile dysfunction. Mental health issues and stress can cause or make erectile dysfunction worse.
Many cases of erectile dysfunction occur because of a physical condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, low testosterone, tobacco use, and alcohol and substance abuse. Erectile dysfunction may also occur as a result of treatment for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, or due to surgeries or injuries affecting the spinal cord or pelvic area.
As men get older, it may take longer to get an erection; moreover the erection may not be as firm. This is not necessarily because of old age, but because of health problems or medications, which are more common as men age.
Several treatment options for erectile dysfunction are available, and include medications, testosterone replacement, penile implants, surgery, and psychological counseling or lifestyle changes.
The first step is to visit your general practitioner. He or she can recommend the best treatment option for you following a physical exam and a review of your medical history. If you have a chronic medical condition, or your doctor believes an underlying problem is causing erectile dysfunction, you will be referred to urologist for further testing.