Erectile Dysfunction
(ED, Impotence)

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Erectile dysfunction (impotence) facts

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity.
  • Erectile dysfunction is common; experts have estimated that erectile dysfunction affects 30 million men in the Untied States.
  • The causes of erectile dysfunction include aging, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, atherosclerosis, depression, nerve or spinal cord damage, medication side effects, alcoholism or other substance abuse, and low testosterone levels.
  • Erectile dysfunction is treatable in all age groups.
  • Treatments include psychotherapy, adopting a healthy lifestyle, oral PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, Stendra, and Staxyn), intraurethral medications (MUSE), intracavernosal injections, vacuum devices, surgery, and working with doctors to avoid medications that can impair erectile function.
  • New research is ongoing in the field of erectile dysfunction to find more improved and effective therapies.

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is different from other conditions that interfere with male sexual intercourse, such as lack of sexual desire (decreased libido) and problems with ejaculation and orgasm (ejaculatory dysfunction). This article focuses on the evaluation and treatment of erectile dysfunction.

What is normal penis anatomy?

The penis contains two chambers, called the corpora cavernosa, which run the length of the upper side of the penis (see figure 1 below). The urethra, which is the channel for urine and ejaculate, runs along the underside of the corpora cavernosa. Filling the corpora cavernosa is a spongy tissue consisting of smooth muscles, fibrous tissues, spaces, veins, and arteries. A membrane, called the tunica albuginea, surrounds the corpora cavernosa. Veins located in the tunica albuginea drain blood out of the penis.

Picture of arteries and veins involved in erectile dysfunction (ED)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

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