Erectile dysfunction (impotence) occurs when a man is unable to get and keep an erection long enough to complete sex. This condition is extremely common—an estimated 15 to 30 million American men have reported some type of erectile dysfunction. While having an erectile problem from time to time is not cause for concern, if it becomes an on-going problem, medical intervention may be necessary.

Erectile Dysfunction Symptoms

  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Difficulty keeping an erection
  • Decreased sexual desire

Erectile Dysfunction Risk Factors

Lifestyle choices including smoking, alcoholism and obesity put men at high risk for ED.

Erectile Dysfunction Causes

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is commonly caused by diseases that damage the small blood vessels throughout the body, which include the penis, particularly the erectile tissue of the penis.

  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Erectile dysfunction also is very common after surgery for prostate or bladder cancer because of potential impairment to the nerves of the penis.