What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. Causes include medications, chronic illnesses, poor blood flow to the penis, drinking too much alcohol, or being too tired.

Signs and symptoms

  • Erections that are too soft for sexual intercourse.
  • Erections that are too brief for sexual intercourse.
  • An inability to achieve erections.

Men who cannot get or maintain an erection that lasts long enough or is rigid enough to complete sexual intercourse is considered to have erectile dysfunction.


Sexual dysfunction and ED become more common as men age.
Common causes of ED include: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, lifestyle choices including smoking, excessive drinking and drug use, being overweight, too little exercise, surgery, prostate or bladder cancer, blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, tranquilizers, stress, depression, poor self-esteem, performance anxiety, and avid cycling.