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Facts About Erectile Dysfunction

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Remember, your doctor or healthcare provider is the single best source of information regarding you and your health. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions about your health, your symptoms, or your medication.

General Questions

What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction, sometimes called impotence, is defined as having a consistent problem getting and/or keeping an erection sufficient for you to complete sexual intercourse. Many men have occasional or temporary erection problems, but that does not mean they have erectile dysfunction. For the problem to be diagnosed as erectile dysfunction, it must happen on a regular basis. It may not occur every time a man wants to have sex, but it does occur repeatedly, over time.

Are impotence and erectile dysfunction the same?

These two terms used to be considered the same, but the more accurate term is erectile dysfunction. Impotence includes erectile dysfunction, but could also mean other things such as fear of failure, stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

How common is erectile dysfunction?

More than 152 million men worldwide suffer from erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, less than 10% of men seek treatment.

How do I know I have erectile dysfunction?

To diagnose and evaluate ED, your doctor will want to take a history and do a complete physical exam. First, it is important to be sure that you have ED and not another form of sexual dysfunction. Remember erectile dysfunction is having a consistent problem getting and/or keeping an erection sufficient for you to complete sexual intercourse.

Questions About Cause

Is erectile dysfunction a normal part of aging?

As they age, men may notice that it takes longer to get an erection, that their erections may not be as hard as they used to be, or that it takes longer to climax. These normal changes related to aging should not be confused with ED. ED is not an inevitable part of aging. And if it does occur, it is highly treatable.

Can erectile dysfunction be cured?

In most cases, erectile dysfunction cannot be cured, but, in many cases; it can be treated effectively. In fact, there are now new options that can help men respond successfully to sexual stimulation.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Any disorder that interferes with the physical sequence of events needed to produce an erection may cause erectile dysfunction-particularly any condition that affects the flow of blood to the penis during sexual stimulation. Some of the health conditions commonly associated with ED include heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes

I've heard that some medicines can cause erectile dysfunction-is that true?

Some medicines you take for other health problems may cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. These include some of the medicines used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, allergies, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and ulcers.

It is important to follow the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional and take your medicines as directed. Talk to your healthcare professional about medicines or over the counter products that you are taking-sometimes he or she can prescribe a different medicine.

Are there other risk factors?

Some "lifestyle habits" can affect your erections, too. These include smoking, drinking too much alcohol and being overweight. It is a good idea for your overall health to try and quit smoking, drink only in moderation and reach and maintain a healthy weight.

What can I do to prevent erectile dysfunction?

Because erectile dysfunction is associated with certain risk factors, like smoking, being overweight or drinking too much, you can help to reduce the likelihood of erectile dysfunction by taking very good care of your health and making life style changes. Because some medicines can also increase your risk for getting erectile dysfunction, always tell your doctor about any medicines or over the counter products you are taking.

Questions About Treating Erectile Dysfunction

What are the treatments for erectile dysfunction?

Current treatment options include:

PDE5 Inhibitors

Other oral prescription medicine

Injection therapy

Urethral insertion tablets

Vacuum devices

Surgical implants

Herbal or ED pills

Before evaluating or using any treatment of erectile dysfunction, be sure to talk to your healthcare professional.

How well do the treatments work?

All the treatments for erectile dysfunction work differently for different people. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you. It is important to take or use your treatment correctly and as directed by your healthcare professional for the best result. Prescription products for erectile dysfunction may work well for many men, but they aren't for everyone.

How do I know which treatment is best for me?

First, talk to your health care professional about all the treatment options and decide together which one is best for you. Talk to your partner. Give your new treatment a chance. Sometimes, especially if it has been a long time since you have had sexual relations, the treatment doesn't work its best the first time. If one treatment doesn't work as well as you would like, other options might work better, so don't give up.

Questions About Seeking Treatment

Where do I go for help?

Seeking treatment of erectile dysfunction can feel awkward. Always begin by talking with your healthcare professional to get you started on the most appropriate therapy for you.

How is the diagnosis made?

Your doctor will ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms, your general health and your lifestyle. He/she will generally do a physical exam and may do some laboratory tests.

What question will my doctor ask?

You doctor will want know about your medical and lifestyle background. Some of these questions might be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but they are important. You will be asked how long you have been having trouble with your erections and if the problem started suddenly or slowly over time; if it happens all the time or only some of the time. The questions might get even more uncomfortable because you will be asked if this happens only with your partner or if you have multiple partners an if there is any difference with you erections when you are with different partners. You will also be asked about stimulation and hardness and how long your erections last.

The doctor will want to review your medical history, about surgery, and medicines you take as well as your lifestyle.

What is the doctor looking for in the physical?

During the physical exam your doctor will look for the physical signs of any underlying diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. Physical exams vary and may include examination of your penis and rectum.

Will there be laboratory tests?

Your doctor may want to check your testosterone level. Testosterone levels can be a clue to the problem and your doctor can decide if you need to supplement testosterone. If you have erectile dysfunction and low testosterone, getting some extra testosterone may help you respond better to erectile dysfunction therapy.

101 Questions and Answers about Erectile Dysfunction, Pamela Ellsworth, MD, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2003

Erectile Dysfunction A Clinical Guide, Roger Kirby, Culley Carson, Irwin Goldstein, ISIS Medical Media, 1999


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Facts About Erectile Dysfunction

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Updated on May 08, 2023

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