You may find it hard to imagine that even though you may not be able to get an erection even after many tries, having an erection still helps you feel good and you can enjoy a good sex life. In fact, ED is common among males who are sexually active and it affects about 10% of males between the ages of 20 and 50 (4). ED is a common problem that men will encounter in their lives. Most of the people in the world have been born with this disorder. It is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction found across cultures and all religions. The reasons behind the erection disorders in human beings can be linked to many factors. There are two major theories for the cause of ED. The first explains that ED is genetic and shows up in many male ancestors in time. The second hypothesis proposes that ED is the result of hormones, hormones that stimulate the sexual organs. Studies conducted on males who were born during the age of puberty show that a high percentage of people with ED have congenital abnormalities resulting from hormonal influences that cause the brain of males to become hyperactive during adolescence (4).
How Many People Do They Affect? The average prevalence rate for ED in the United States is 1 in 1,000 (3). ED is estimated to affect men and women over a age range of 25 to 35 years (4). However, ED rates are higher among people who are under 40 years of age (4). You should know that ED is only the most severe form of male sexual dysfunction, and the condition can often go undiagnosed and untreated for a significant portion of a male's life. In fact, men are 50% more likely to be afflicted with ED even though they will not actually manifest it during sexual intercourse (4). When you are having a sexual relationship or sexual activity, you always will have the potential to have an erection, but sometimes it may be difficult to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. If you have been looking at a variety of magazines or films to help you visualize what erection looks like, it's easy to get lost in the fantasy of having an erect penis. Unfortunately, ED is a very common symptom of men who are trying to look for a romantic relationship, having difficulty with sexual intercourse, or have had sex with somebody else and want their partner to experience an erection. In their research, many doctors noticed that a significant amount of their patients (20%) had sexual intercourse for the first time after starting a new relationship, and had found it very difficult to maintain an erection if they needed to have a sexual intercourse immediately. The first problem to help you understand that ED is really a serious condition is to take a look at the symptoms in the picture to the right. It gives you an idea of how a person can feel when having a sexual relationship, and the effects these symptoms have on the body. The symptoms that may appear during sexual intercourse are very common as a result of the normal function of your body.
How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?
ED is not diagnosed by looking at a graph of your score and your results. The best way to test for ED and have it evaluated by a provider is by examining the penis in the privacy of your home or a private place you don't mind strangers seeing – that is, during the "no-penis" phase of treatment. If you have ED, you will probably have problems with erectile dysfunction and ejaculation, which may or may not involve urine. For more information on testing for ED, read "Pacing out Erections."
When is erectile dysfunction treatment recommended?
A good rule of thumb is to start treatment as soon as possible after being diagnosed. At some point, you will probably need weekly visits from your doctor. There are about 90 treatments for ED, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although some may involve medication, others might involve counseling and other forms of intervention such as physical therapy.
Is ED considered a chronic condition or a "sickness" or both?
In general, you should not feel sick about your erectile dysfunction. However, if it affects your personal life, a doctor should be contacted for a more detailed evaluation. For example, an ED diagnosis should not always be the last word about your health. There are other treatments for ED that have been around for a long time. These include:
Sex therapy—treatment that tries to change the way you think about sex. It can help you improve sexual desire or increase arousal.
Injections, lasers, or other forms of treatment that stimulate your body to release chemicals that will enhance or increase your sex life—these interventions are known as "pharmacotherapies," and they are used to treat conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or cancer.
The use of medications to treat some forms of ED. (If you are unsure about which medications might be right for you, talk to your doctor).
Some doctors also see the use of medications as a substitute for ED treatments, especially if they work longer than five years.
Where can I get help?
If you are in the United States and want to try treatments for ED without having to visit a doctor, you can order a prescription from your pharmacist or over the Internet. You may also ask your health care professional for a referral.
Can a doctor give me an idea of the type of treatment I'll need to try?
Doctors are trained to recommend ways to treat an individual patient. Sometimes, your doctor may suggest you have a health care professional check your condition at one of their clinics or a hospital. When your doctor will see you is personal issue, your doctor will discuss your issues with you in your home or your health care professional will decide what you can do or can't do at your doctor's discretion.