Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. ED varies from a total inability to get an erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only brief erections. ED is usually a side effect of physical disease, injury, or drugs.
- Inability to achieve or maintain an erection
- Inconsistent ability to achieve/maintain erection
- Tendency to sustain only brief erections
Your doctor will perform a detailed history exam, asking if you have difficulty achieving an erection, if the erection is suitable for intercourse, if the erection can be maintained, and if ejaculation occurs. You will also be asked about any medications you are currently taking, any surgeries in the past, and other disorders (i.e. prostate surgery, history of trauma, radiation exposure, etc.) Other questions may be asked about drug, alcohol, and tobacco usage, indications of depression, relationship with your sexual partner, and other similar inquiries.
A physical exam will also be necessary, paying close attention to the genitals and nervous, vascular, and urinary systems. The physical examination will help determine the cause of the ED.
Based on the severity of the ED issue, your doctor will suggest treatments from least to most invasive. Something as simple as making healthy lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and losing weight) may help to solve the issue.
Surgery is an option in some cases. Most surgery cases are performed for one of three reasons: to implant a device to initiate erections; to reconstruct arteries and increase penis blood flow; to block off veins that allow blood to leak from the penile tissues.
Other treatment options include:
To achieve erection, a complex process has to take place within the man’s body. Because this process is so in-depth and complex, sexual dysfunction and ED are extremely common in men. It is estimated that as many as 30 million men in the United States are affected by ED (The National Institutes of Health). ED is usually a side effect of physical disease, injury, or drugs. Treatment is an option for virtually any man needing to improve the quality of his sex life.