Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sexual performance. ED occurs when not enough blood flows to the penis, preventing an erection. Studies have shown that most cases of ED, which affects nearly 30 million men, are caused by physical health problems.

Potential Causes

Erectile dysfunction is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition such as diseases that affect blood flow, psychological factors, chronic diseases, and certain medications

  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Neurological problems 
  • Psychological issues such as depression or performance anxiety
  • Medication side effects


There are no formal tests to diagnose erectile dysfunction; however, there are tests to determine underlying causes

  • Blood tests for testosterone, diabetes, cardiovascular health
  • Duplex ultrasound to evaluate blood flow and signs of atherosclerosis


A number of treatments for erectile dysfunction exist. 

  • Oral pills 
  • Sex therapy or counseling to alleviate stress and other psychological issues
  • Pumps that draw blood into the penis prior to sex
  • Exercise and weight loss, especially aerobic exercise
  • Hormone replacement if testosterone is very low
  • Penile implant surgery
  • Penile revascularization surgery

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