Erectile dysfunction: A common men's health problem characterized by the consistent inability to sustain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse or the inability to achieve ejaculation, or both. Impotence can vary. It can involve a total inability to achieve an erection or ejaculation, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to sustain only very brief erections. Erectile dysfunction is also called impotence,
The risk of erectile dysfunction increases markedly with age. It is four-fold higher in men in their 60s compared with those in their 40s according to a study published in the Journal of Urology (2000;163:460-463). Men with less education are also more likely to experience impotence, perhaps due to a less healthy lifestyle, less healthy diet, more alcohol, or less exercise. Physical exercise tends to lessen the risk of impotence.
Erectile dysfunction can have emotional causes but most often it is due to a physical problem. The physical causes include diseases (such as diabetes and hypertension), injuries (such as from prostate surgery), side-effects of drugs (such as the protease inhibitors used in HIV therapy), and disorders (such as atherosclerosis) that impair blood flow in the penis. Impotence is treatable in all age groups. Treatments include psychotherapy, vacuum devices, surgery and, most often today, drug therapy.
Names -- impotence versus erectile dysfunction: The word "impotence" is a venerable term that dates back to the 15th century. However, it literally means powerlessness and so may have pejorative connotations. Advertising for sildenafil (Viagra), the first oral medication approved by the US FDA for the treatment of impotence, popularized the more recent term "erectile dysfunction." (A porcupine that cannot raise its quills to an upright position also can be said to have erectile dysfunction.)
Erectile dysfunction (ED, "male impotence") is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual performance.
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