Male erectile dysfunction, sometimes called impotence or simply MED, is defined as a consistent inability to achieve and maintain an erection. Many men occasionally experience this problem, either due to fatigue, emotional distress or illness. This is quite normal and usually temporary. If the problem persists, an underlying medical problem may be the cause.
Difficulty achieving erections and the negative effect this has on a couple’s sex life can devastate a man’s self-esteem and damage his relationship with his partner. Society equates the ability to perform sexually with manhood, so men suffering from erectile dysfunction are often ashamed of the condition and unwilling to seek professional help.
An estimated ten to twenty million men in the United States suffer from impotence, yet only ten percent ask their doctors for help. Erectile dysfunction is often caused by an underlying medical problem, however, and generally responds well to treatment.
Other Sexual Disorders
Erection difficulties are often confused with other sexual disorders. Problems such as premature or delayed ejaculation are actually very different from erectile dysfunction, and require different treatment methods. Men sometimes confuse a lengthy refractory period with erection problems. In fact, the refractory period is simply the time span following ejaculation when a second ejaculation is impossible. This period becomes longer with age.
The terms used to talk about erectile dysfunction are often confusing. Here’s a quick reference to terms you’ll probably hear:
Aphrodisiac: Any substance that increases sexual desire. Although many online products claim to be aphrodisiacs, very few have any effect on sex drive. Even a true aphrodisiac may not help treat erectile dysfunction, as underlying medical problems can cause the condition.
Endocrinology: The study of the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands produce hormones that affect sexual drive.
Impotence: A common term for erectile dysfunction. “Impotence” is not as clinically accurate a term as erectile dysfunction, and carries negative connotations of powerlessness and a lack of manhood. Most doctors prefer to use the term erectile dysfunction.
Libido: Libido is a person’s interest in sex. Emotional distress, illness and other factors can have a significant impact on libido.
Penile: A term meaning ‘of the penis.’
Testosterone: Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and is responsible for the development of male secondary sex characteristics.
Urology: Urology is the study of the urinary system, and of the male sex organs. A urologist is a specialist in urology.
Vascular Disease: A broad term for disease of the blood vessels (veins and arteries). The penis traps blood in order to become erect. Problems with blood flow often cause erectile dysfunction.