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According to a consensus statement issued following the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the consistent or recurrent inability to attain and/or maintain penile erection sufficient for sexual satisfaction, including satisfactory sexual performance1.

Erectile dysfunction is relatively common. One recent peer reviewed retrospective analysis of 97,159 patients included in the 2015 and 2016 National Health and Wellness Surveys for 8 major countries found the overall prevalence of ED ranged from 37.2% to 48.6% of men over 18 years of age and older2.  Clearly, if you are one of the thousands of men, or the partner of a man dealing with ED, you are not alone.

Men who experience ED often want to know what caused the problem. Risk factors for ED include obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, imbalanced blood lipid levels, alcohol consumption, and depression2. Importantly, evidence shows that ED is a leading indicator for the presence of treatable underlying medical conditions that, left untreated, reduce quality and length of life.  ED can also negatively affect a man’s mental health, his relationship, and his general well being. The presence of ED, therefore, provides an opportunity to potentially address multiple issues that affect a man’s general health3. Given that, men who have ED should consult with a Health Care Professional for a thorough medical, history; a physical examination; and selective laboratory testing.

The treatment of ED will depend upon the individual patient and their circumstances as well as the results of the evaluation by a Health Care Professional. Generally speaking, treatment options include oral medications (pills), injections of medication into the penis, external vacuum devices, and internal penile implants. Each of these treatment options come with different risks and benefits and, in some cases, treatment for ED may not be advisable. Therefore, men should discuss the risks and benefits of all different treatment options with their Health Care Professional.

  1. McCabe MP, Sharlip ID, Atalla E et al: Definitions of sexual dysfunctions in women and men: a consensus statement from the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine 2015. J Sex Med 2016; 13: 135.
  2. Goldstein I, Goren A, Li VW, et al. Epidemiology Update of Erectile Dysfunction in Eight Countries with High Burden. Sex Med Rev 2020;8:48-58.
  3. Erectile Dysfunction: AUA Guideline 2018, American Urological Association web site

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