Nearly every man at some point has a problem getting or keeping an erection. There could be any number of reasons for it, ranging from fatigue, stress, or even side effects of a new medication. But as long as it's temporary and only happens occasionally, an erection problem is not generally a cause for concern. Some men, however, especially as they get older, experience a more frequent and longer lasting problem with erection known as erectile dysfunction or ED.
ED refers to a man's inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. Although ED is more common in older men, aging is not the cause. In nearly 75% of cases of erectile dysfunction there is a physical reason for the erection problem.
Being unable to have or keep an erection adequate for sexual activity is the defining mark of erectile dysfunction. The problem may manifest itself in several ways. If the dysfunction:
Is transient or appearing only occasionally, the problem is not likely to be serious; all men experience problems with erections at some time in their lives.
Develops gradually and persistently, there is probably a physical cause; this is generally the case with chronic impotence.
Erectile dysfunction is a reason to consult a doctor. Unfortunately, some men are reluctant or embarrassed to discuss sexual matters with their doctor. As a result, they miss an opportunity to get the help that could resolve their problem with ED, or even worse, miss the opportunity to discover and address a potentially serious health issue that may be causing ED. If you are a man experiencing ED, here is information to help you talk about erectile dysfunction with your doctor.
Why You Should See a Doctor About Erectile Dysfunction
There are two main reasons you should consult your doctor about erectile dysfunction. The first is ED can be treated. ED affects you and your partner, and it can put a strain on your relationship. It can cause you to doubt yourself and lower your self-esteem. It can also cause partners of these men with ED to question their own sexual desirability.
There are drugs that specifically address ED, and finding a solution can be as simple as taking a pill your doctor prescribes. But even if your erection problem is not resolved with oral medication, there are other options that your doctor can help you explore, including injections, suppositories, surgical penile implants, and special devices, such as a vacuum pump, which increases the flow of blood into the penis.
But an equally important reason for talking with your doctor about ED is that it can be related to more serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or diabetes. It could also be related to medication you're taking. ED may also be the result of prostate surgery or other treatments, such as radiation therapy for cancer.
Telling the doctor about your ED may be the first indication that something is wrong. Once an underlying condition is identified, treating it may also resolve the problem with erections.
If there is a psychological cause of ED, the doctor can help you find a professional to address psychological issues.