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WakeMed Blogs

10 Facts About Erectile Dysfunction

January 31, 2017

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.

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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.

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