If you are concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor, even if it embarrasses you. Sometimes treatment of an underlying condition is enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. In other cases, medications or other direct treatments may be needed.
As you age, erections may take longer to develop and may not be as firm. You may need more direct penile contact to achieve and maintain an erection.
Several risk factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, for example, the following:
- Diseases, particularly diabetes or heart conditions.
- Tobacco use, which restricts blood flow to the veins and arteries; over time, it can cause chronic medical conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction
- Being overweight, especially if you are obese
- Certain medical treatments, such as prostate surgery or cancer radiation therapy
- Injuries, particularly if these damage the nerves or arteries that control erections
- Medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and drugs to treat high blood pressure, pain, or prostate conditions
- Psychological disorders, such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Alcohol and illicit drug use, especially if you are a long-time drug user or heavy drinker
These are some of the complications caused by erectile dysfunction:
- An unsatisfactory sex life
- Stress or anxiety
- Shame or low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
- Inability to get your partner pregnant
When to see a doctor
Your family doctor is the first person you should see when you have erectile problems. See your doctor in the following cases:
- You are concerned about your erections or have other sexual problems, such as ejaculatory dysfunction, premature or delayed ejaculation.
- You have diabetes, heart disease, or another known medical condition that may be associated with erectile dysfunction.
- You have other symptoms in addition to erectile dysfunction.