Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability of a man to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for his sexual needs or the needs of his partner. Most men experience this at some point in their lives, usually by age 40.
Some men, however, experience chronic, complete erectile dysfunction (impotence), and others, partial or brief erections. Frequent erectile dysfunction can cause emotional and relationship problems, and often leads to diminished self-esteem. Erectile dysfunction has many causes, most of which are treatable, and is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 5 percent of 40-year-old men and between 15 and 25 percent of 65-year-old men experience ED on a long-term basis.
Physical causes of erectile dysfunction can include:
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Brain or spinal-cord injuries
- Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
- Liver or kidney failure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Radiation therapy to the testicles
- Some types of prostate or bladder surgery