Erectile Dysfunction: Symptoms and Causes | Tampa General

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. 

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is far from an uncommon condition. The occasional bout of erection trouble during sex, or the inability to get an erection when you want one, isn’t always proof of a bigger problem. Experiencing it regularly, however, is a sign that something’s not right. While erectile dysfunction itself is not a life-threatening condition, you should talk to a doctor sooner than later if it’s consistently affecting your sex life.

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

With numerous possible causes linked to both physical and mental health conditions, pinpointing the exact cause of one patient’s erectile dysfunction may take longer than it would for others. Though the odds of developing erectile dysfunction famously grow with aging over 50, it can also affect younger people.

Some general causes include:

  • Diabetes, heart disease, being overweight and other related medical conditions
  • Sleep disorders
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Low testosterone
  • Taking certain medications
  • Tobacco, alcohol and drug use, especially over a long period of time
  • Injuries or even certain medical treatments
  • Stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions

Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

While it’s always good to get a doctor’s official diagnosis, it’s easy to identify symptoms of erectile dysfunction yourself:

  • The inability to achieve an erection, regardless of your desire to have sex in the moment
  • The inability to maintain a firm erection during sex

If persistent, this can lead to the development of mental health problems that not only further complicate your erectile dysfunction, but could also negatively affect your relationship with your partner.

Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

One appointment may be all that’s needed for a doctor to diagnose you with erectile dysfunction. The more time-consuming part of the process isn’t diagnosing the condition itself, but finding out exactly what’s causing it.

Tests and exams commonly used in the discovery process include:

  • Physical and mental health exams
  • Ultrasounds
  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis (urine tests)

Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction

You’ve probably seen oral medications for erectile dysfunction advertised heavily on television, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach for treating the condition. Depending on your underlying causes, there may be a treatment option that works better for you—and the urology and male sexual health specialists at Tampa General Hospital are prepared to find it.