Erectile Dysfunction: Test Your Knowledge

How much do you know about erectile dysfunction (ED)? Review these statements and learn which are true and which are not.

Erectile dysfunction is a normal part of getting older.

FICTION: It is not normal for a man to lose erectile function completely as a result of aging. Generally, other factors may be involved. These may include vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, low hormone levels (testosterone), and personal habits such as cigarette smoking.

Prescription drugs can contribute to ED.

FACT: There are more than 200 kinds of prescription drugs that may be associated with ED.

A man can get an erection whenever they want.

FICTION: This may be true of teenage boys; however, erections do not occur as often as a man gets older. Hormones in a man's body and other life changes may affect a man's level of arousal. It may take longer for a man to achieve an erection and may require more direct stimulation and foreplay.

ED is sometimes a psychological issue.

FACT: Psychological factors are responsible for causing ED in about 10%-20% of people with the condition. However, the majority of men with ED have an underlying physical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, have undergone prostate cancer surgery, or abuse drugs or alcohol.

Tight underwear can cause ED.

FICTION: Causes of ED can be physical and/or psychological, but tight underwear is not among the causes of ED.

Tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drug use may bring about ED.

FACT: These substances can damage blood vessels and/or restrict blood flow to the penis, causing ED.

Most men never experience ED.

FICTION: Most men experience ED at one time or another. Studies suggest that as many as 52% of men between ages 40 and 70 experience erectile dysfunction.

It is advisable to seek treatment for recurring ED.

FACT: A man should seek medical advice and treatment if ED occurs more than 50% of the time or is otherwise a concern for their partner.

ED can result from riding of a bicycle.

FICTION: Bicycle-riding, in moderation, often doesn't affect erectile function. However, bicycle riding may cause a slight increase in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), so men who are planning on taking the PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer should refrain from riding and from from sexual intercourse a few days prior.

Impotence affects only the man with ED.

FICTION: Both partners can suffer if impotence goes untreated. Failure to acknowledge and treat the problem can lead to depression, anxiety, and lack of self-esteem for both partners.