Erectile dysfunction also known as impotence is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is different from other conditions that interfere with male sexual intercourse, such as lack of sexual desire (decreased libido) and problems with ejaculation and orgasm (ejaculatory dysfunction).
Erectile dysfunction can have a range of causes, both physical and psychological.
Physical causes include:
- narrowing of the blood vessels going to the penis – commonly associated with high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol or diabetes
- hormonal problems
- surgery or injury
Psychological causes of ED include:
- relationship problems
If you have erections in the morning or at night while you sleep, it is likely not a physical cause. Most men have 3 to 5 erections at night that last about 30 minutes. Talk with your doctor about how to find out if you have normal nighttime erections.
See your doctor if you have erectile dysfunction for more than a few weeks. They will assess your general state of health because the condition can be the first sign of more serious health conditions, such as heart disease (when the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted).