What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a condition wherein a male has the inability to maintain a genital erection long enough to have sex. This condition can become as men grow older. But erectile dysfunction can also affect men at any age. Some may experience difficulties maintaining an erection from time to time which is quite normal. This condition concerns the problem of not maintaining an erection on a persistent basis. It can eventually become a cause of concern and will affect one’s self-esteem as well as intimate relationships.

Main Symptoms

The main symptom of erectile dysfunction is the difficulty of having an erection and maintaining it long enough to engage in sex. It may be normal for some males to experience maintaining erections at some occasions. But this condition is characterized by a persistent failure to have an erection. Aside from its effects on one’s self-esteem and on relationships, erectile dysfunction may also be a sign of an underlying health condition that might require immediate treatment.

Main Causes

The male genital contains two cylindrical and sponge-like structures called corpus cavernosum that run along the length of the penis. During sexual arousal, the nerve impulses in the brain transmit signals that cause the blood flow into the two cylindrical structures in the penis to increase. The increase in the blood flow causes the sponge-like structure to expand, producing an erection.

As sexual arousal in males is considered a complex process, there can be several factors involved in erectile dysfunction. Sexual arousal can be brought about by a mixture of brain processes, hormones, emotions, nerve impulses as well as muscle function and blood flow. Any disturbance in this delicate balance may be a possible cause for a male’s failure to maintain an erection.

In the past, doctors have believed erectile dysfunction to be mainly psychological in nature. But currently experts now fully know that the underlying causes for the condition may be physical in nature. It can be a result of an underlying health problem or even the side effects of medication. Health conditions that may lead to erectile dysfunction include heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and certain metabolic disorders. Other possible causes may include smoking, drug abuse, certain side effects of prescription medication, and certain injuries that affect the spinal cord or the pelvic area.