What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Carol Roach By Carol Roach, 6th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Men's Health

Erectile dysfunction which used to be known and impotence is a condition where men are unable to sustain an erection. It used to be thought that this condition was prominent only in males 65 years of age or older. Newer research point to the fact that men of any age can suffer from this condition.


According to a Massachusetts study on aging there are up to 30 million men who have this condition in the USA alone. Unfortunately I was not able to find Canadian statistics; however, the problem is prominent in Montreal and the rest of Canada as well.

Treatment is essential for this condition, as it relates to the physical and psychological health of the males and their sexual partners as well.


There are many sexual dysfunctions. Some males who suffer from sexual dysfunctions are without sexual desire, or are unable to release sperm (ejaculate). However, in the case of males who suffer from erectile dysfunction, they often desire sex and have a healthy libido; they are unable to sustain an erection. This condition is a physical condition and very distressful to the male and couples concerned.

The Symptoms of erectile dysfunction:

Inability to achieve an erection

Erections that only last for a short period of time, and do not last long enough for sustaining a sexual relation

A soft erection that will not allow for intercourse

Men are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction when they cannot achieve a normal erection 75 percent of the time.

Risk factors for erectile dysfunction

As men age, the risk for erectile dysfunction increases. According to a Massachusetts study on aging, about 40 percent of men will experience some erectile dysfunction by the time the turn 40, while it increases to 70 percent by the time they are 70. After the age of 40 the risk of erectile dysfunction can increase by 5 percent each year.

Erectile dysfunction and diabetes

How does an erection work?

The brain sends signals to the nerves in the genital area during sexual stimulation. The blood fills in the corpora cavernosa which are chambers in the penis. When the chambers are filled like a balloon, the penis engorges; stiffens and swells causing an erection. Any kind of blockage of the brain signals or genital nerve responses can impede the flow of blood and cause erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction and diseases

The biggest culprit leading to erectile dysfunction is blood sugar levels. This is a major factor in diabetes. One out of two men who have diabetes also suffer from erectile dysfunction. Other conditions which affect erectile dysfunction includes: kidney disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis. Each of these conditions can impair the blood flow throughout the body.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Lifestyle or how we live affects erectile dysfunction in a major way. Anything that affects the normal blood flow to the genitals will contribute to erectile dysfunction. Diseases such as diabetes, athersclerosis, kidney disorders and heart conditions will affect the flow of the blood to the penile area.

However, beyond that, the chemicals that we put in our bodies can impair the blood flow as well.


Men who have athersclerosis and smoke are at a greater risk for erectile dysfunction. Research shows that smokers in general are twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

Obesity and lack of exercise

Obesity and lack of exercise can also lead to erectile dysfunction, make sure to maintain your weight and exercise to keep your mind and body fit.

Erectile dysfunction and cycling

Cancer and surgeries

Bladder cancer and prostate cancer treatments can affect penile performance. Surgeries can cause damage to the blood vessels that transport blood to genital area. The damage may be either permanent or temporary. If it is temporary full erectile functioning returns within six to 18 months. If the damage is permanent, then treatment will be required to bring back normal erectile functioning.


Certain medications such as high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and over-the-counter medications and tranquilizers can cause erectile dysfunction. If you suspect your medications may be causing the problem make sure to talk it over with your doctor who can assess the situation and perhaps change the medication.

Psychological implications

Although erectile dysfunction is mostly physical it can be caused by psychological issues in about 20 percent of males. There are many psychological factors such as performance anxiety, stress, depression, guilt, shame, low self-esteem and so on which can affect male sexual performance and cause erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction and bicycling

Cyclists may be more at risk for erectile dysfunction than other men. One of the three major studies in this area noted how many people who cycled for many hours a day had experienced numbness in the genital area. It appears that the seat of the bicycle might put pressure on the nerves and arteries responsible for sexual arousal. The scrotum and perineum are the affected areas.

Because of this new research, manufactures have taken notice and new bicycle seats have been designed to make sure there is no pressure on the male genital area.

All photos taken from the public domain

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Ejaculation, Erectile Dysfunction, Erectile Dysfunction And Diabetes, Erectile Dysfunction Causes, How Does An Erection Work, Impotence, Libido, Mens Health, Risk Factors For Erectile Dysfunction, The Symptoms Of Erectile Dysfunction

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar spirited
9th Sep 2015 (#)

Maybe I will take up bike riding again then if the problem has now been fixed.

I used to ride many miles a day, years ago.

Great article again here Carol, most useful info.

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