Erectile dysfunction: causes, symptoms and treatment

Erectile dysfunction, i.e. the inability to obtain and maintain adequate rigidity of the penis during sexual intercourse.

What is it

Erectile dysfunction, which in the past was called impotence, is a disorder characterized by the inability to obtain and maintain adequate rigidity of the penis during penetration, so as to prevent a complete and satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Causes of erectile dysfunction

At the origin of erectile deficiency there is often a combination of organic and psychological causes (see table).

Among the first, important risk factors are diabetes, high cholesterolobesity, hypertension and heart failure that interfere with blood flow in the cavernous bodies of the penis, on which erection depends.

If also associated with a decrease in sexual desire, the deficiency may be due to a reduction in testosterone in the blood or an increase in prolactin.

Other elements responsible can be trauma to the spine, negative outcomes of prostate surgery, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS.

The excessive curvature of the penis is instead an anatomical deformation that prevents the normal functionality of the organ.

Among the indirect causes of erectile dysfunction are the intake of certain categories of drugs (psychotropic drugs, hormones, antihypertensivesantiulcer), the use of drugs and alcohol, the habit of smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

On a psychological level, stress, depression, performance anxiety can promote occasional and temporary erectile dysfunction.

Organic causes Diabetes

High cholesterol



Heart failure

Reduced testosterone blood levels

Increased blood levels prolactin

Trauma to the spine

Negative outcomes of interventions to the prostate

Alzheimer’s disease

Disease of Parkinson’s

Multiple sclerosis


Excessive curvature of the penis

Indirect causes Taking certain categories of drugs (psychotropic drugs, hormones, antihypertensives, antiulcers)

Drug and alcohol use

Habit of smoke

Sedentary lifestyle

Psychological causes Stress


Performance anxiety

Do you want to know if you really suffer from this problem? Here is the Quiz that doctors use to diagnose erectile dysfunction

Most common symptoms

The main symptom of erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and maintain the erection necessary for satisfactory sexual intercourse. The deficit can also be of modest or medium severity and occur at any age, but its frequency increases proportionally with age.

Occasional difficulty is not considered a condition of erectile dysfunction. Furthermore, the presence of erections during sleep leads to the exclusion of organic causes.


Erectile dysfunction, even if temporary, can have a highly negative impact on the quality of life, cause anxiety, depression, lack of self-confidence, difficulties in the couple relationship.

From a physical point of view, in some cases it represents an important alarm bell for the appearance of serious vascular diseases such as Stroke and heart attack.

Consuming erectile dysfunction drugs purchased without a prescription and through unofficial channels, such as the Internet, poses serious health risks.

The cure

Most of the time the disorder is not addressed due to the reluctance of men to talk about it, even with the doctor. A frank interview instead allows you to identify any organic or psychological causes, decide the tests to be performed and find the solution.

There are several treatment approaches to erectile dysfunction. In many cases, the use of orally active drugs (sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil) to be taken before sexual intercourse is effective, provided that the sexual desire that triggers the erection is preserved.

However, the choice of the most suitable drug must be evaluated by the doctor on the basis of each individual case, and the intake must take place under his supervision.

When anxiety aggravates the disorder, it is useful to associate psychotherapeutic support with drug treatment.

Alternatively, it is possible to use injections of drugs (alprostadil, papaverine) locally or the surgical insertion of a hydraulic prosthesis that allows the expansion of the organ.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *