Erectile dysfunction (impotence or ED) is the inability to get and keep an erection.
Having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. If erectile dysfunction is an ongoing issue, however, it can cause stress, affect your self-confidence and contribute to relationship problems. Problems getting or keeping an erection can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs treatment and a risk factor for heart disease.
If you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor — even if you’re embarrassed. Sometimes, treating an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments might be needed.
Erectile dysfunction symptoms might include persistent:
- Trouble getting an erection
- Trouble keeping an erection
- Reduced libido
When to see a doctor
A family doctor is a good place to start when you have erectile problems. See your doctor if:
- You have concerns about your erections or you’re experiencing other problems such as premature or delayed ejaculation
- You have diabetes, heart disease or another known health condition that might be linked to erectile dysfunction
- You have other symptoms along with erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes erectile dysfunction. For instance, a minor physical condition that slows your response might cause anxiety about maintaining an erection. The resulting anxiety can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.