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10 Facts About Erectile Dysfunction

Regarded as a somewhat taboo topic, erectile dysfunction is more common than you’d think. While it is often thought of as a condition affecting older men, erectile dysfunction can actually affect men as young as their 20s!

Defining Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a urological condition affecting men. Sometimes referred to as ‘impotence’, ED is defined as the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex [source]. While having occasional trouble achieving an erection is hardly cause for concern, ongoing problems sometimes signify more serious, underlying health issues that need to be addressed.


10 Facts About Erectile Dysfunction

Below are some other, perhaps lesser-known facts about erectile dysfunction:

#1 – Erections are a barometer of a man’s overall health.

Weakening erections can signal an underlying medical condition.

#2 – The prevalence of ED increases with age.

Studies suggest that 37% of men 70-75 years of age suffer from weak erections. However, studies also suggest 8-10% of men aged 20-30 suffer from ED.

#3 – Risk factors may include underlying health/medical conditions.

Risk factors for ED include diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and low testosterone.

#4 – Tobacco use affects ED.

Smoking causes ED by affecting the small blood vessels in a man’s pelvis and penis. Another good reason for men to quit!

#5 – Medications can cause ED.

Certain drugs used to treat depression and high blood pressure have been linked with erectile dysfunction.

#6 – Exercise can lower your risk of ED.

Physical exercise is associated with a lower risk of ED; working out helps keep pelvic and penile blood vessels healthy.

#7 – Sleep apnea is a risk factor for ED.

Using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to treat sleep apnea may improve or maintain a man’s sexual performance.

#8 – Substance Abuse has a negative impact.

While alcohol and some recreational drugs, such as cocaine and heroin/opiates, will initially stimulate libido and sexual arousal, they eventually exert a negative impact on a man’s ability to achieve a usable erection.

#9 – If you don’t use it, you could lose it!

Frequency of sexual activity appears to predict the development of ED in men ages 55-75 years; men who have sex less than once per week develop ED at twice the rate as men who have sex once per week. Use it or lose it!

#10 – Internet pornography can have a negative effect.

Addiction to Internet pornography can lead to unrealistic expectations with a real partner and subsequent ED.

When to See a Doctor

Your family physician or urologist is the first place to start if you are experiencing problems related to erectile dysfunction.

Reasons for a visit may include (but are not limited to):

  • Problems getting and/or maintaining an erection
  • You have other medical issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity
  • Problems with premature or delayed ejaculation

About Scott Lisson, MD

Dr. Scott Lisson is a Urologist with WakeMed Physician Practices at WakeMed Cary Medical Park. He is board-certified in urology, with clinical interests in urologic oncology/cancers, robotic and laparoscopic surgery of the kidney, prostate, and ureter, benign prostate disease, and urinary stone disease. Learn more about Dr. Lisson, and schedule an appointment.