What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Written by
Dr. Arjun Randhawa
PharmD, RPh, ACPR
Please talk to your healthcare provider if you have any medical questions or concerns. Information presented in the CareGuide articles is only meant for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What is ED?

Males with erection problems cannot get or keep an erection that is firm enough to have sex. Erection problems are also called erectile dysfunction or impotence. 

Most males have erection problems every now and then. This is normal. These problems can occur at any age. But they are more common in older men, who often have other health problems. 50% of Canadian men aged 40-88 experience ED. ED does occur in younger men as well. It is reported that ~10% of men aged 20-39 experience ED. 

What causes ED?

ED can have many causes, including:

  • Physical problems, such as injury to nerves or loss of blood supply to the penis
  • Other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression
  • Side effects of certain medicines
  • Stress
  • Drinking too much alcohol or smoking
  • Surgery, such as for prostate cancer

What are the symptoms?

The only symptom of an ED is being unable to get and keep an erection that is firm enough to have sex. But even with an erection problem, a man may still have sexual desire and be able to have an orgasm and ejaculate.

How is ED diagnosed?

With SpotCare you can answer questions related to your health and ED. Your SpotCare doctor will assess your answers to these questions. That is why it is important that you provide accurate and honest information. After meeting with you the doctor may diagnose you with ED. Following the diagnosis, the doctor may start you on medical treatment. 

How is ED treated?

The usual treatments for ED are lifestyle changes and medicines. Surgery is an option for some but only used in rare cases. Treatment can include:

Lifestyle changes: 

  • Avoiding tobacco and drugs and limiting alcohol
  • Talking about the issue with your partner
  • Doing sensual exercises
  • Getting counselling

Prescription medications:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra®) – ll help you get erections
  • SpotCare-affiliated doctor will assess to see if one of these medications is safe for you
  • Taking medicines and getting counselling for depression or anxiety

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