Erectile dysfunction (ED), also called impotence, refers to the inability to achieve and maintain an erection that is vital for a satisfactory sexual intercourse. ED is a common condition, cann affect very young to old men.


ED could be caused due to various factors, both physical and mental. Some of the major causes include:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels extending to the penis due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes
  • Certain hormonal problems
  • Surgery or injury
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems in relationship

Risk factors

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity or overweight
  • High cholesterol
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Excess consumption of alcohol
  • Diabetes

You should consult your physician if ED tends to persist for more than a few weeks so that the cause can be diagnosed. This will generally involve answering certain questions about your symptoms, as well as a comprehensive physical examination and some tests. The tests often include:

  • A blood test to examine the level of cholesterol and lipids
  • Blood sugar level and testosterone level
  • Blood tests to check for kidney and liver disease.
  • A urine test
  • Checking blood pressure
  • ECG


Atherosclerosis or the narrowing of the arteries is one of the most common causes of ED. In such cases, your physician may recommend certain lifestyle changes, such as reducing weight, in order to prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease. You may also be administered medication to treat atherosclerosis including cholesterol-lowering statins and drugs to lower your blood pressure.

Some of the other treatment options include medication, such as sildenafil or Viagra, Vacuum pumps that encourage blood to smoothly flow to the penis, resulting in an erection, Injection treatment, Urethral medication and Penile prosthesis.

Treating depression, anxiety, changing medication, sex therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, limiting alcohol consumption, or treatment of certain hormonal conditions may also help to cure the associated ED.

Authored by Dr N Anandan