Understanding Erectile Dysfunction: The Ultimate Guide


Are you having difficulty maintaining or getting an erection? Has it started to affect your relationship with your partner? If this sounds like you, we can assure you that you aren’t the only one. In fact, more than 30 million men experience Erectile Dysfunction(ED) in the US alone.1

In some cases, ED is quite normal and isn’t a matter of concern. This is because most men occasionally experience difficulty getting their penis hard or to keep it firm. It only becomes a concern when you can’t achieve satisfactory sexual performance on multiple occasions for an extended period.2

Most men with sexual problems are quite reluctant to consult their doctor for they consider it to be an embarrassing problem. However, ED is well understood now, and you can find numerous treatments too.

If you feel that you have ED or something close to it, this article will serve as a guide to help you better understand impotence. Read on as we’ll be taking a closer look at what it is, it’s prevalence, symptoms, causes, followed by some tips that might help overcome erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction: What Is It?

Also known as impotence, ED or erectile dysfunction refers to a condition where you’ll experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection for a satisfying sexual performance. While it’s normal for one to have difficulty keeping or achieving an erection occasionally3, it’s only when the problem becomes persistent and starts to disrupt your sex life, you should be concerned.

Erectile dysfunction is quite common and the likelihood of being diagnosed with the condition increases with age. A 2018 review found that about a 3rd of men are affected by ED.4 Another review suggests that the prevalence of impotence worldwide ranges from 3%-76.5%.5

Though your risk for impotence increases as you age, even younger men can develop ED. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, about 26% of younger men under forty suffer from erectile dysfunction.6

Erectile Dysfunction: Who is More at Risk?

If you have these risk factors, your chances of experiencing ED are high:

Age: As you age, the likeliness of experiencing ED increases. Age is among the main risk factors of erectile dysfunction.7 While the estimates may vary, this condition is more prevalent in older men as compared to younger men, This is because erectile capacity decreases with age.

Psychological conditions: If you’re suffering from stress, depression, or anxiety, you’re also at risk of experiencing impotency. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, there seems to be a strong association between ED and depression. However, in certain cases, it isn’t clear whether erectile dysfunction leads to depression or vice versa.

Obesity: You’re also at high risk if you’re obese. This is because about 79% of men with ED were found to have a BMI(Body Mass Index) of over 25kg/m2.8

Diabetes: Diabetes is another factor that might increase your risk of experiencing impotency. If you have diabetes, it might cause nerve damage, thereby causing problems with circulation. This can lead to ED.9

Other Risk Factors: Your chances of developing impotency is also higher if you’re physically inactive, smoke, have metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or low testosterone.10

What About Its Symptoms?

The symptoms of impotence or erectile dysfunction include frequent:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Low sexual desire
  • Inability to maintain an erection

What About the Causes?

The sexual arousal process in men is quite complex. It involves the hormones, brain, blood vessels, emotions, nerves, and muscles. If you have an issue with any one of these, it might lead to erectile dysfunction. Similarly, stress or any other mental health conditions might cause or worsen ED.

Sometimes, ED might be caused by either physical or psychological factors. Some physical causes include:

  • Low testosterone
  • Sleep disorders
  • Injuries around the pelvic region or spinal cord.
  • Alcoholism
  • Treatments for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.
  • Certain prescription medications.
  • Multiple sclerosis, a chronic illness that affects your nervous system.
  • Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorder.
  • Metabolic syndrome - this includes high insulin levels, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, and body fat around your waist.
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

As for psychological causes, they include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety, depression, or any other mental health problems.
  • Relationship issues due to poor communication, stress, or other concerns.11

What Can I Do To Prevent ED?

While there are natural solutions available to fully help treat erectile dysfunction, a new study found that making the correct lifestyle choices can help prevent impotence in the first place.12:

  • Exercise: If you’re obese or physically inactive, regular exercise can be beneficial for your circulatory health. Researchers found that performing 160 minutes of aerobic activity a week for six months can help reduce ED symptoms.13
  • Eat Better: Aside from being physically active, following a well-balanced diet can also help alleviate impotency. Green leafy veggies like spinach & celery, dark chocolates, pistachio nuts, and watermelon can all help improve ED. If your vascular health is good, chances are you can avoid most of the common factors that cause erectile dysfunction.14
  • Better Lifestyle Choices: By making some healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk considerably. Lowering your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking is not just a wise decision but can also help prevent or overcome ED.15


We understand your reluctancy to discuss sexual problems with your physician or doctor. However, you must remember that ED is treatable and you aren’t alone as it’s a common sexual problem that most men experience at some point in their life.

It’s important that you seek treatments for impotence as it might be an indication of other serious health problems.

Finally, remember that making healthy lifestyle choices and staying physically active can be of great help in minimizing most of the issues caused by ED.

  1. 1https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  2. 2https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/5702#causes
  3. 3https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776
  4. 4https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed#prevalence
  5. 5https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-07-global-prevalence-erectile-dysfunction.html#:~:text=A%20review%20of%20published%20studies,are%20published%20in%20BJU%20International.
  6. 6https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed#prevalence
  7. 7http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/#:~:text=The%20study%20demonstrated%20that%20ED,to%2015%25%20at%20age%2070.&text=Age%20was%20the%20variable%20most%20strongly%20associated%20with%20ED.
  8. 8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24720114/#:~:text=79%25%20of%20men%20presenting%20erectile,greater%20risk%20of%20sexual%20dysfunction.
  9. 9https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed#risk-factors
  10. 10https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed#risk-factors
  11. 11https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776
  12. 12https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/news/20140423/for-many-older-men-impotence-is-treatable-without-drugs#1
  13. 13https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction
  14. 14https://www.everydayhealth.com/erectile-dysfunction-pictures/foods-that-fight-erectile-dysfunction.aspx
  15. 15https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/news/20140423/for-many-older-men-impotence-is-treatable-without-drugs#1
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