What is erectile dysfunction/impotence? When a man can't get an erection to have sex or can't keep an erection long enough to finish having sex. It can occur at any age, but it is more common in men older than 65.

Is erectile dysfunction just a part of old age? It doesn't have to be. It's true that as you get older, you may need more stimulation (such as stroking and touching) to get an erection. But older men should still be able to get an erection and enjoy sex.

What causes erectile dysfunction? The following are some of the physical causes of erectile dysfunction:

  • Alcohol and tobacco use or drug abuse
  • Fatigue
  • Brain or spinal-cord injuries
  • Hypogonadism (which leads to lower testosterone levels)
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Radiation therapy to the testicles
  • Stroke
  • Some types of prostate or bladder surgery
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Hormones get out of balance
  • Some medicines can cause erectile dysfunction.

Feelings that can lead to erectile dysfunction

  • Feeling nervous about sex, perhaps because of a bad experience or because of a previous episode of impotence
  • Feeling stressed, including stress from work or family situations
  • Being troubled by problems in your relationship with your sex partner
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling so self-conscious that you can't enjoy sex
  • Thinking that your partner is reacting negatively to you

How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed? Your doctor will probably start by asking you some questions and doing a physical exam. Samples of your blood and urine may be tested for diseases and disorders. Other tests may also be needed. Your doctor will determine which tests are right for you.

Source: American Academy of Family Physicians

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