Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a type of sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity. ED can have psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and self-image. A physical cause can be identified in about 80% of cases. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, neurological problems such as following prostatectomy, and drug side effects. Psychological impotence is where erection or penetration fails due to thoughts or feelings; this is somewhat less frequent, in the region of 10% of cases.
The most common organic causes are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological problems, and drug side effects. These account for around 70% of erectile dysfunction. In some cases, however, these factors are the secondary cause of erectile dysfunction. The primary cause may be a psychological problem. ED is often caused by stress, anxiety, or depression. It is also caused by drinking too much alcohol, smoking, or using illegal drugs.
ED is more common in older men. It is also more common in men who are taking certain medications, such as beta blockers or antidepressants. Men who have diabetes or low testosterone levels are also at higher risk. ED is also more common in men who have a history of heart disease or stroke.
A doctor will ask about the person’s symptoms and medical history. They may also perform a physical examination. The doctor may also order blood tests to check for diabetes, low testosterone levels, and other conditions. In some cases, the doctor may refer the person to a urologist or a mental health provider.
The goal of treatment is to improve the person’s quality of life and reduce the risk of complications. Treatment may involve lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or drinking too much alcohol. The doctor may also prescribe medications to treat the underlying cause of the ED. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.