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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Erectile Dysfunction
      Category : Health Centers > Reproductive System

Erectile Dysfunction

Alternate Names : Impotence

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Male erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man cannot get or keep an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse.

What is going on in the body?

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by mental or physical problems, or a combination of both. Men who are depressed or have some other emotional problem may have no interest in having sex. There may also be physical problems with how blood flows into the penis and is kept there during an erection.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem. It is a problem whose frequency increases with age, but it is not necessarily a consequence of aging. Roughly 25% of men over the age of 65 have some degree of ED. Erectile dysfunction is considered a medical problem if it lasts more than 3 months.

Causes of erectile dysfunction can include:

Conditions that cause changes in the way blood flows to the penis, such as:

  • hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • Conditions that affect the nervous system, such as:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Psychological conditions and social problems, such as:

  • depression
  • stress
  • unhappy relationships, such as a marriage
  • Endocrine and hormone imbalances, such as:

  • diabetes, caused by abnormalities in the production or use of insulin in the body
  • hyperthyroidism, or a high level of thyroid hormones
  • hypothyroidism, or a low level of thyroid hormones
  • hypogonadism, or a low level of testosterone
  • Habits that make blood flow worse, such as:

  • smoking cigarettes
  • abusing alcohol
  • using illegal drugs
  • Trauma or injury to the pelvis, such as:

  • spinal cord injury
  • prostate surgery, such as a transurethral resection of the prostate, simple prostatectomy, or radical prostatectomy
  • Some prescription medications, such as:

  • blood pressure medications including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or hydrochlorothiazide
  • antidepressants


    Next section


    Erectile Dysfunction: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Evan M. Sisson, Pharm.D., MHA, CDE
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 06/07/01

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