What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is another name for impotence. ED is defined as the
persistent inability to maintain an erection that is either firm enough, or
lasts long enough, to have sexual intercourse. This common problem is often
caused by physical conditions such as prostate cancer, diabetes, and
Treating ED and Restoring Your Quality of Life
ED can limit your intimacy, affect your self-esteem, and impact your most
important relationships. But the good news is that nearly every case is
treatable today. With advances in treatment options, ED is not simply an
inevitable consequence of aging: you no longer have to live with it or suffer
There is usually more than one treatment option. The first step is to seek
help from a doctor familiar with the latest forms of treatment. Dr. Henry can
help you determine which treatment is right for you.
To learn more about ED, it is important to understand how the penis works. The
normal erection process includes these five stages:
- Stage 1: Initial Filling – With psychological or sexual stimulation, neurotransmitters cause penile
smooth muscles to relax, increasing blood flow to the corporal bodies.
- Stage 2: Partial Erection (Tumescence) - Penile arteries expand to accommodate the increased blood flow needed to
elongate and expand the penis.
- Stage 3: Full Erection – The increased volume of blood within the penis is prevented from draining,
thus expanding the penis to full erection.
- Stage 4: Rigid Erection – Maximum rigidity is attained. The glans and spongiosum (body and tip of the
penis) enlarge until penile veins are forcefully compressed. This increases
engorgement and maintains maximum penile rigidity. Emission of semen and
- Stage 5: Return to Flaccidity (Detumescence) - Muscle contractions result in increased blood outflow from the penis, thus
decreasing its length and girth until flaccid.
Common Causes of ED Explained
The majority of ED cases are caused by the following problems:
- Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves or blood vessels that control the flow of
blood to the penis.
- Cardiovascular problems can decrease blood flow to the penis through blocked arteries or leaking
veins, resulting in erectile dysfunction.
- Trauma or surgery to the prostate, bladder, colon, or rectal area can damage nerves and cause
- Spinal cord injuries can stop nerve impulses from reaching the penis.
- Medications, including some for high blood pressure, can interfere with blood flow to the
- Hormone problems caused by kidney or liver failure can result in erectile dysfunction.