Erectile Dysfunction (ED, Impotence)

  • Medical Author: Pamela I. Ellsworth, MD
  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Erectile Dysfunction Home Remedies

Lifestyle changes can improve ED

No matter what erectile dysfunction treatment or treatments (whether herbal remedies or not) a man ultimately decides upon, experts say it's important to eat healthily and to avoid smoking and heavy drinking. Moreover, adequate exercise, stress reduction, and sleep can improve erectile dysfunction in many.

Quick GuideSex-Drive Killers: The Causes of Low Libido

Sex-Drive Killers: The Causes of Low Libido

Erectile dysfunction (impotence) facts

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the inability to have a hard erection initially and/or to have a hard erection that lasts long enough for sexual activity.
  • Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include lack of an erection hard enough for penetration and/or lasting long enough for completion of sexual activity.
  • ED may occur with or without other sexual dysfunction, including decreased libido (decreased interest in sexual activity), orgasmic dysfunction (troubles achieving an orgasm/climax), and ejaculatory dysfunction (problems with the fluid released during sex, including lack of ejaculation, small volume ejaculate, and pain with ejaculation).
  • Erectile dysfunction is common, and the risk of developing ED increases with age. Experts have estimated that erectile dysfunction affects 30 million men in the United States.
  • The causes of erectile dysfunction include aging, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), depression, nerve or spinal cord damage, medication side effects, alcoholism or other substance (drug) abuse, pelvic surgery including radical prostatectomy, pelvic radiation, penile/perineal/pelvic trauma such as pelvic fracture, Peyronie's disease (a disorder that causes curvature of the penis and sometimes painful erections), 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 prostaglandin E1 (MUSE), intracavernosal injections (prostaglandin E1 [Caverject, Edex], Bimix and Trimix), vacuum devices, surgery, and (in some cases) changes in medications when appropriate.
  • Before using over-the-counter products and/or supplements, a discussion with a doctor is strongly recommended.
  • New research is ongoing in the field of erectile dysfunction to find improved and effective therapies.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2017

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