Erectile Dysfunction Basics
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is defined as trouble getting or keeping an erection that’s firm enough for sex.
During sexual arousal, nerves release chemicals that increase blood flow into the penis. Blood flows into two erection chambers in the penis, made of spongy muscle tissue. During an erection, the spongy tissues relax and trap blood. The blood pressure in the chambers makes the penis firm, causing an erection. When you are not sexually aroused, the penis is soft and limp.
ED is very common and can be a result of health problems, emotional issues or both. While men may have some problems with erections from time to time, ED that happens regularly with sex is not normal and should be treated.
Treatments may vary based on the main cause of ED for a man, which is why it is important to talk with your doctor about what may be causing ED. Treatment aims to fix or enhance erectile function, help circulatory health and help the quality of a man’s life.
When to see a doctor
A family doctor is a good place to start when you have erectile problems. See your doctor if:
- You have concerns about your erections or you’re experiencing other sexual problems such as premature or delayed ejaculation
- You have diabetes, heart disease or another known health condition that might be linked to erectile dysfunction
- You have other symptoms along with erectile dysfunction