Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man often has problems getting or keeping an erection (getting hard). Your penis may not get erect at all or only once in a while. Or you may get erections, but they don't last long enough.
It’s normal for men to have problems getting an erection once in a while—doctors don’t consider it ED unless it happens often
ED can be caused by injuries, psychological problems, nervous system and blood vessel diseases, certain medicines, and surgery
ED is common in men older than 40
ED is usually treatable
Sometimes ED is a sign of more serious health problems.
See a doctor right away if you have ED and:
Numbness plus ED could be a sign of a problem with your spinal cord.
Ask your doctor's office how soon you should be seen if you:
Most of the time, ED is caused by problems with blood flow to your penis or problems with the nerves to your penis.
The most common causes of ED are:
Hardening of the arteries in your body (atherosclerosis)
Side effects from prostate surgery
ED can also be caused by:
Your doctor may also advise you to:
However, the main treatment for ED is medicine. Usually, doctors prescribe:
Pills like sildenafil are called phosphodiesterase inhibitors. You take them about an hour before you want to have sex. You shouldn't take these pills if you also take a certain type of heart medicine called nitrates. Nitrates such as nitroglycerin are medicines for chest pain.
If you can't take phosphodiesterase inhibitors, your doctor may:
A vacuum device is a round plastic tube that you place over your penis. It has a hand pump you use to pull out the air. This gives you an erection. After the erection, you'll place a ring or band around the base of your penis to maintain your erection when you take the pump off.
If you have severe ED and none of these treatments work, doctors may:
The device may be a solid silicone rod that keeps your penis stiff all the time. Or it may be an inflatable device that you pump up to give yourself an erection.