Erection Problems (Erectile Dysfunction) - Topic Overview
A man has erection
problems if he cannot get or keep an erection that is firm enough for him to
have sex. Erection problems are also called erectile dysfunction or
Most men have erection problems every now and then. This is normal. These problems can occur at any age. But they are more common in older men, who often have other health problems. Treatment can help both older and younger men.
Erection problems can have many causes. These include:
The only symptom of an
erection problem is being unable to get and keep an erection that is firm
enough to have sex. But even with an erection problem, a man may still have
sexual desire and be able to have an orgasm and to ejaculate.
can find out if you have an erection problem by asking questions about your
health and doing a physical exam. Your doctor will want to know how often the problem
happens. The exam, lab tests, and
sometimes mental health tests can help find out the cause of the
Doctors usually start with lifestyle changes
and medicines. They usually don't advise surgery or other treatments unless
those first steps don't help.
Treatment can include:
tobacco and drugs and limiting alcohol.
- Talking about the issue with your
partner, doing sensual exercises, and getting counseling.
- Finding and
then stopping medicines that may be causing the problem. In some cases you can
take a different medicine that doesn't cause erection problems.
Taking prescription medicine that can help you get erections. These include
pills such as sildenafil (for example, Viagra), tadalafil (for example, Cialis), and vardenafil
(for example, Levitra). Check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to take one of
these medicines with your other medicines. These pills can be dangerous if you have
heart disease that requires you to take nitroglycerin or other medicines that
- Taking medicines and getting counseling for
depression or anxiety.
- Using vacuum devices or getting shots of
medicine into the penis.
- Having surgery to place an implant in the
Erection problems are most often caused by a physical problem. So it's important
to eat healthy foods and get enough exercise to help you stay in good
To reduce your risk of having an erection problem, don't
smoke, drink too much alcohol, or use illegal drugs.
You may be
able to avoid erection problems related to anxiety and stress by talking with
your partner about your concerns. This may help you relax.