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Men's Health

What are the health risks of erectile dysfunction and related disorders?

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, refers to any loss of sexual drive or ability (the erection is usually not erect) for a number of reasons. This may be due to:

subsequent damage to nerves in the penis due to: diabetes, heart or blood vessel disease, an operation, an infection, or a surgery (such as a prostatectomy, an operation to remove part of the prostate)

circumferential nerves in the penis (particularly the shaft and the glans) being affected due to: a congenital defect or congenital abnormality in the head of the penis or shaft, or a stroke, or traumatic injury

damage to blood supply to the penis or urinary obstruction

Conductions are also associated with ED. Conduction refers to the narrowing of the tube that carries blood to the penis. When it becomes blocked it produces a urinary urgency that is often aggravated by sexual activity. The result: urinating out of one's bladder.

Most ED occurs between the ages of 40 and 50 and affects 10% to 15% to be men aged 50–100. The most common causes of ED are diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, an operation or infection, or a stroke. Many problems that occur as a result of diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, or an operation or infection, will affect the blood vessels of the penis. These include:

heart disease


pulmonary emboli

arteriosclerosis (the increase in thickness of the arteries of the penis when arterial blood flow is impaired)

elevated blood pressure

inadequate blood flow

pitting of the penis

diabetes affects the blood vessels by preventing the flow of blood from the penis into the penis. This reduces the effectiveness of erectile response.

Risk factors

The risk of developing ED is more likely to be seen in older men. Men diagnosed aged between 45–50 tend to have the greatest risk of developing ED.


Erectile dysfunction can result from a number of causes. The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is hypertension (high blood pressure) which is usually due to disease, or an infection. In the most common form, the erectile function is lost because of obstructions of blood flow to the penis resulting from:

congenital defects or birth defects of the penis or shaft and glans

a stroke

an infection of the penis (such as the common cold and genital herpes)

a congenital or congenital abnormality of the head of the penis

any of a number of congenital defects of the penis

In other cases of erectile dysfunction, the cause is a failure of the nerves to function normally at the time of the ejaculation.