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Loss of Erection Facts

Definition & Background
Erection problems (ED) refers to a man’s inability to maintain a firm erection long enough to sustain sex. ED can occur at any age, although it is more common in older men. Most men have trouble maintaining an erection from time to time, which is not a cause for concern. However, the inability to maintain a lasting erection at least 50 percent of the time gives reason to seek medical attention.

Formerly called impotence, erectile dysfunction was once a subject that was off-limits. It was considered a psychological issue or a natural consequence of growing older. Attitudes within the medical field, and also with the public, have changed in recent years. It is now generally accepted that erectile dysfunction is more often caused by physical problems than by psychological ones – in other words, younger men can be stricken with ED, and older men may show no sign of ED into their 80s.

Ongoing problems with ED can certainly cause stress, relationship problems, and even affect self-esteem. Men who think they may be suffering ED can experience great benefits by consulting with a physician. It is also important to take erectile trouble seriously because it can be a sign of a more serious health problem, such as heart disease.

 

Erection Problem Treatments

Erectile dysfunction treatments include oral prescription medications, vacuum pumps, injections and surgery. Before 1998, there were no medications available for ED. However, since Viagra was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, prescription medications have become the most popular treatment for ED. In fact, Viagra has eclipsed the $1 billion mark for annual worldwide sales every year since 1998, although Cialis and Levitra (both introduced in 2003) have taken away nearly half of the market share in sales.

The FDA warns online customers to avoid "generic," "professional," and "soft-tab" versions of the three FDA-approved ED medications for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. Any online facilitator that sells these varieties of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra is selling counterfeit pills that are illegal in the U.S. These counterfeit pills are a potential hazard to your health because they contain unknown ingredients. They may also contain much less or much more of the active ingredient in FDA-approved ED pills (sildenafil citrate).

 

Causes for Loss of Erection

Three conditions must occur in order for a man to achieve an erection: The nerves to the penis must be functioning properly; the blood circulation to the penis must be adequate; and there must be a stimulus from the brain. If something interferes with any of these conditions, a full erection will be prevented.

Common causes of ED include diseases that affect blood flow, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); nerve diseases, psychological factors, such as stress, depression, and performance anxiety; and injury to the penis. Chronic illness, certain medications and a condition called Peyronie's disease (scar tissue in the penis) can also cause ED.

Diseases (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, alcoholism, atherosclerosis) account for as many as 70% of chronic ED cases and psychological factors (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression) may account for 10–20% of cases. Between 35 and 50% of men with diabetes experience ED.

For people who are at risk of developing ED due to personal behavior, such as drinking too much alcohol, steps may be taken to prevent its occurrence. However, other causes of ED may not be preventable.

 

Prevalence of ED

According to the National Institutes of Health in 2002, an estimated 15 million to 30 million men in the U.S. experienced chronic erectile dysfunction. According to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), approximately 22 out of every 1,000 men in the U.S. (2.2%) sought medical attention for ED in 1999 – one year after Viagra was released on the market.

Although chronic ED affects about 5% of men in their 40s and 15–25% of men by the age of 65, transient ED and inadequate erection affect as many as 50% of men between the ages of 40 and 70.