Understanding Erectile Dysfunction

Definition of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction is the inability to attain or maintain a penis erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse.  To initiate and maintain an erection, the penis must fill with blood. One type of blood vessel opens wide to allow blood into the penis. Meanwhile, a second type of blood vessel squeezes down to keep the blood from leaving the penis. In normal penis function, nerve signals cause the proper coordination of the blood vessels.

Causes of Dysfunction

Summary of All Risk Factors Age:  65 and older

Medical Conditions:

  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • Hardening of arteries.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Liver failure.
  • Peyronie’s disease—bending of the penis caused by scar tissue.
  • Endocrine disorders.
  • Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, and stroke.
  • Hypertension
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Traumatic conditions:

  • Vascular surgery.
  • Pelvic surgeries, particularly for prostate cancer .
  • Spinal cord injury.


  • Alcohol use.
  • Illegal drug use.
  • Anabolic steroid use.
  • Heavy smoking.
  • Interpersonal conflicts with a sexual partner.


  • Anti-hypertensives, for high blood pressure.
  • Anti-histamines, commonly used as allergy medication.
  • Anti-depressants.
  • Tranquilizers.
  • Anti-psychotic drugs.