Erectile dysfunction

How to recognise erectile dysfunction and what to do about it

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Erectile dysfunction

What is an erectile disorder? And how do I recognise it? Erectile dysfunction (ED), as medics call it, is annoying – but also surprisingly common. More than 3,914,534 men in the UK suffer in some form of erectile dysfunction.1 So we think it’s important to tell you more about it.

Often, the problem first appears in the bedroom. You suddenly realise you’re unable to perform. If that happens once, it’s certainly frustrating – especially if it bothers your partner as well – but there’s no need to panic. However, persistent problems can affect your relationship and even your overall self-confidence, possibly undermining your whole quality of life.

Medically speaking, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to gain or maintain an erection adequate enough for satisfactory sexual performance.2 In other words, your penis doesn’t get or stay hard enough for sex.

Having an erection is a complicated process involving changes to the blood vessels, muscles and nerves in your penis – usually as a result of sexual arousal. Put simply, if you have an erectile dysfunction not enough blood flows into your penis3 to stiffen it properly. This hardly causes an erection.

Help, I'm having trouble with my erections!

About 15.7 per cent of adult men have problems with their erections. And the older you are, the more likely you are to be one of them: Erectile dysfunctions affect to a certain extent 35 percent of men aged over 40.4 So if you suspect you do have this condition, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not alone!

Seek help for erection problems

As well age, your lifestyle could also be a factor when it comes to difficulties with erections. Drinking a lot, smoking and unhealthy living can all play their part. As can psychological issues like relationship troubles, fear of failure and depression. Conversely, erectile problems can make you feel even more down and lead you into a vicious circle.

All too often, occasional problems become regular ones. But while 85.3 per cent of men with an erectile dysfunction want medical help4, in practice only 11.7 per cent get it. If you want to be one of them, you should seek assistance as soon as possible. After all, this is something that certainly won’t go away if you just ignore it.

[1] Braun M, et al., (2000). Epidemiology of erectile dysfunction: results of the `Cologne Male Survey' International Journal of Impotence Research 2000(12). pp. 305-311.

[2] Bethesda, MD (2009). Erectile Dysfunction. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

[3] De Boer, BJ (2004). Erectile dysfunction in primary care: the ENIGMA study. Universiteit Utrecht: Thesis.

[4] Feldman HA, et al., (1994). Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. International Journal of Urology 1994 (151(1)) pp. 54-61.

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