Erectile dysfunction (ED), one of the most common sexual problems in men. ED means that a man cannot achieve or maintain an erection long enough to complete sexual intercourse. Not long ago, ED was referred to as "impotence" and thought to be primarily a psychosocial or emotional issue.
Today, it is understood that erectile dysfunction is often the result of a physical problem, such as a vascular condition that reduces the flow of blood to the penis. While it is not unusual for a man to have trouble getting or keeping an erection from time to time, it is important to seek medical attention if it becomes an ongoing issue. ED not only diminishes a man's quality of life, but it can also be a symptom of another medical problem.
Causes of ED include heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, chronic alcoholism and low testosterone. The most common emotional causes are depression, anxiety, stress and relationship problems.
To diagnose ED, a urologist will usually take a medical and sexual history, perform a physical exam and conduct blood, urine or other lab tests. The doctor may also evaluate the patient for psychosocial issues.
The first line of treatment is often medication, such as Viagra, Levitra or Cialis. If the cause of ED is low testosterone, the doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy. Finally, if the problem is severe, the doctor may recommend a penile implant, such as a hydraulic pump or a prosthesis.