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Understanding Erectile Dysfunction -- Symptoms

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What Are the Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?

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.
  • Develops abruptly but you still have early-morning erections and are able to have an erection while masturbating, the problem is likely to have a psychological component, perhaps with an underlying physical factor.

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Anne, 63, of Medford, OR, knows a thing or two about erectile dysfunction (ED). Her husband, now 58, first started taking medication for it about 5 years ago. “At first you think, oh, you’re getting older and slowing down. But it got to the point where it was really bothering him, and he was unable to have sex without the drugs,” says Anne, who asked that we use her middle name only, He is far from alone. Some 18% of all men in the U.S. have ED, and the odds of developing it increase sharply after...

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Call Your Doctor About Erectile Dysfunction If:

  • Erectile dysfunction is linked with anxiety or threatens your sexual relationship. At a minimum, your doctor can help clear up misinformation, which commonly exacerbates sexual problems. Sometimes a short course of medication can get you through a rough patch.
  • Erectile dysfunction persists. Physical causes can be early warning signs of more general, potentially dangerous conditions; for example, narrowing of the penile artery may indicate coronary artery disease or diabetes. For the dysfunction itself, a doctor may suggest a medication that will allow for normal erections or might advise the use of a mechanical device or penile injection therapy. But the underlying medical condition must be addressed and treated.
  • Erection problems are associated with pain or penile curvature (a condition called Peyronie's disease).

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 07, 2015
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