Erection problems, or erectile dysfunction, refer to a man's inability to achieve or keep an erection that is sufficient to have satisfactory sex. Erection problems do not always indicate a lack of sexual interest or desire, and the man may or may not be able to have orgasms or to ejaculate.
Erection problems can occur at any age but are more common as men age. Occasional episodes are considered normal and often do not mean there is a serious problem.
The cause of erection problems may be physical (such as injury to the nerves or blood flow going to the penis) or psychological (such as anxiety or depression). Erection problems also can be caused by medicines, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, or drug abuse.
Several treatments are available, including oral medicines, a vacuum device, medicines injected into the penis, and penile implant surgery. Counseling can help improve psychological causes.
Last Revised: May 14, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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