What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction refers to a condition in which an erection is impaired. It can manifest in the following forms:     

  1. Difficulty in achieving the erection during sex      
  2. Difficulty in maintaining erection till completion of sex      
  3. Not getting sufficient erection (poor quality of erection) 

How common is erectile dysfunction?

Very common. Data says that around one-third of males will face this problem once in a while, the frequency increases as the age increases.

What are the causes of erectile dysfunction?

There can be many causes. Broadly, the causes can be divided into two: Biological causes and Psychological causes. 

  1. Biological causes: Conditions that affect the blood flow to penis or nerve supply to the penis can cause erectile dysfunction. Some common ones include long-term high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, poor cholesterol control etc.
  2. Psychological causes: In younger patients, psychological causes are more common. Performance anxiety (taking too much pressure for performing well) is one of the commonest cause. Also, every time a person fails in achieving an adequate erection, it sets up a negative cycle wherein the last failure increases the anxiety further and chances of future erection failures go up.

What is the treatment?

Treatment depends upon the cause. A thorough evaluation to find out the cause is the first step. Once the cause has been found appropriate treatment should be started. Medicines such as PDE-5 inhibitors, improve blood flow to the penis and hence the quality of erection. Other medicines including certain supplements have also shown promising results. The anxiety must be tackled using proper counselling techniques. With proper treatment, most people are able to improve significantly. Mechanical devices such as vacuum pumps and penile implants can also be used in resistant cases.

Whom to contact for help?

Contact the nearest sexual disorder specialist. Usually, it's a qualified psychiatrist or urologist, though doctors from many other streams also practice sexual disorder's medicine.