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Erectile Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Pallavi Barnwal
Updated on May 23, 2024
Erectile Dysfunction: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Table of Contents

When you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection, you may have erectile dysfunction (ED). It can occur during solo sex (masturbating) or when you’re having sex with a partner. 

Many people think that ED only affects elderly men. This is an annoying myth because it means that if you’re a teenager or in your 20s and 30s with erection issues, you are the only young man experiencing erection problems in your younger years. 

But having a fulfilling sexual life doesn’t have to end in your 40s or above. You may not be experiencing the same level of erections as you did in your twenties due to a variety of mental, psychological, and lifestyle factors. 

And I am here with other sex therapists and sex educators, at getintimacy to help you get your erections back on track.

In this blog, I’ll be addressing the following aspects: 

  • What is ED, and what is not?
  • Cause of erectile dysfunction
  • What symptoms to look for
  • Options of treatment `

What Is Not Erectile Dysfunction (ED)? 

Traditional and sexual health professionals don’t really agree on an objective definition of ED. The traditional definition primarily focuses on the percentage of intercourse failure. Masters and Johnson (1970) define erectile dysfunction as a failure of intercourse over 25% of the time. 

However, what if you only experience 15% of unsuccessful erections (i.e., inability to sustain a sufficiently strong erection for intromission, or inserting the penis into the vagina, and intravaginal ejaculation), but when you do, you experience a crippling sense of sexual and personal failure? 

Or what if you get a powerful erection but then ejaculate and lose it before your penis enters her vagina? What if, instead, you experienced successful erections during oral sex or during masturbation but not during intercourse?

Or what if intercourse takes place for more than 20 minutes but experiences ejaculatory inhibition and cannot come? Many men with ejaculatory inhibition eventually lose them and misdiagnose themselves as having ED. 

Another scenario could be this: you have intercourse for over twenty minutes but are not able to ejaculate due to ejaculatory inhibition? Eventually, a lot of guys who have ejaculatory inhibition lose them and wrongly diagnose themselves with ED. 

Now you may wonder, what is ED…. 

If you seldom get an erection or you avoid trying to have sex because of fear, clearly, you’re suffering from ED. 

And if you have regular intercourse but sometimes can’t last longer or don’t get hard, maybe once in ten times, or in a month, or in a year, this is NOT considered ED. 

To summarize, ED is a condition where a man lacks confidence and comfort with an erection, and there could be many underlying reasons for that. 

Erectile Dysfunction Causes

ED can be caused by an array of factors. These can be classified into two primary categories: psychological (mental) and physical (bodily). 

Common physical causes of ED

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity
  • narrowing of the penis blood vessels
  • hormone imbalance
  • side effects of certain prescription medications or recreational drugs
  • smoking or overconsumption of alcohol
  • diabetes
  • any sports injury or damage to nerves or arteries 
  • pelvic floor issues (being too tight or too weak)

Common psychological causes of ED

Psychological erectile dysfunction includes all the mental reasons that might stop you from getting hard or cause premature ejaculation. 

  • performance anxiety
  • relationship problems
  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • boredom
  • Negative body image
  • lack of sex education
  • feel guilt or shame around sex
  • lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem
  • an unhealthy relationship with porn

Typical Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction: Signs to Look For 

When you feel that something about your erection is not okay, knowing the symptoms might help you understand what could be going on with you currently. 

This might help you realize if that frustrating incident was a one-time occurrence or if you have been struggling with erection for a while; you can learn that you need to take specific steps to get hard again. 

Either way, knowing more about what’s going on will help you. 

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction 

Nearly all men have trouble getting hard occasionally, and usually, it’s not a cause for concern. 

But if you notice these symptoms more often, you could be experiencing with ED:

  • unable to get hard 
  • unable to get hard enough to enjoy the pleasure you want
  • not maintaining an erection for longer
  • losing your erection before you finish – whether you’re masturbating alone or having sex with a partner.

Secondary ED symptoms

At getintimacy, we talk about both types of ED, caused by both physical and psychological factors. And when ED happens, mental health is affected.

If you notice these signs, consider them as red flags: 

Low or zero sex drive

You can feel that your libido is not as high as previously. It’s okay not to be horny always, but a lack of sexual desire over time is something you should worry about. 

Your erections seem to be softer than they used to be

Sex may not be an issue, but you may not be as hard as you used to be. It’s not a concern because, on rare occasions, this may happen, and it’s temporary. But if you see this pattern consistently, check it out. 

Loss of sensation in your penis

Penis gets specific types of sensation due to the large number of nerve endings in it. Talk to a doctor about it if your penis becomes tingly or numb because this could indicate low testosterone levels or nerve injury. 

Avoid intimacy and sex

You are consciously avoiding sex every time due to some fear or anxiety. Keep a watch on this to determine if it’s a single or recurring occurrence.

What are the treatment options for ED?

There are numerous ED treatments available. They address multiple ED causes in different ways.

  • Psychosexual treatment can assist in resolving your problems and enhance your sexual health and penis function. It may occur on its own or in conjunction with other therapies.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Some men can naturally restore their erections by using exercises that strengthen particular body areas like the glutes and pelvic floor.
  • Improvements in lifestyle
  • It can be helpful to modify your diet, increase your physical activity, and give up alcohol, cigarettes, and stress.
  • Keeping in check other ED risk factors
  • You can sustain healthy erections even if you have an underlying medical condition, such as cardiovascular disease, by following a good lifestyle and medication.
  • Medication or penis pumps

Over to you

We are aware of how countless men struggle with ED and suffer in silence with feelings of guilt, shame, and frustration. 

It is possible to reclaim your erections and enjoy great sex without taking pills.

We have a team of sex therapists and psychologists with years of experience in treating men with ED. 

At getintimacy, we help men transform their sex lives, and you must know that we’ve got your back. 

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