Are you struggling with the ability to initiate or maintain an erection? Is this affecting your relationship? Do you feel embarrassed to discuss this?  Rest assured you are not alone – This comprehensive guide on erectile dysfunction (ED) offers valuable insights and actionable advice!

What is erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, especially in men aged 40-70 years (around 50%). There are several causes for erectile dysfunction and both physical and psychological factors can play a part. Many men may feel embarrassed to discuss this, but it is important that you seek advice from your doctor to get a diagnosis and help manage any underlying cause to help you be able to have sex.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

The causes of ED are typically categorized into physical or psychological.

Physical causes:

Vascular: If there is an interrupted blood supply this can affect erectile function. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or raised cholesterol can all result in the narrowing of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis) and result in erectile dysfunction.

Nerve related: Surgery to the pelvis or penis can result in damage to the nerves which in turn affects the signals to the brain that results in an erection. Other neurological causes such as a stroke can result in damaged nerves and impact erectile function.

Hormones: Hormonal concerns can also cause erectile dysfunction because of reduced libido, making it more difficult for the brain to trigger an erection. This can be due to several conditions including thyroid disturbance, low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) or even depression. 

Medications: Some medications (e.g. antidepressants) can also affect erectile function and it is important to discuss this with your doctor if you have any concerns about side effects, prior to stopping your medication. 

Structural: Other anatomical conditions of the penis can affect the ability to get an erection. 

Psychological causes:

Sometimes erectile function may vary depending on the situation. You may find that you are able to get an erection during masturbation or when you wake up in the morning but struggle during sex with your partner. 

In these circumstances, it is highly likely that the cause of your symptoms is more psychological (e.g. stress, anxiety or mood-related). Frequently erectile dysfunction is due to a combination of both physical and psychological factors. Exploring emotions with a trained specialist around the possible issues relating to sex and your relationships may really help. 

How is Erectile Dysfunction Diagnosed?

After taking a detailed history your doctor may wish to perform a genital and/or prostate examination and carry out some simple tests including taking your blood pressure & performing some blood tests to assess your cardiovascular risk factors and to check for any underlying cause. In some cases, you may be referred to a specialist for further investigations (usually in younger men). 

How is Erectile Dysfunction Managed?

This will depend largely on the cause. Lifestyle measures are key in helping improve blood circulation and reducing cardiovascular disease and include:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Reduction in alcohol
  • Healthy balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index)
  • Adequate exercise

In the absence of any underlying health condition, you may be offered medication, such as Viagra (sildenafil). This can be very successful in many patients and helps to encourage blood flow to the penis prior to sexual intercourse. There are some situations where you may not be able to use this type of medication so please discuss this with a health care professional. 

Psychological therapies such as sex therapy, counseling, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective. In some cases, your GP may refer you to a specialist for other treatments like injection therapy, vacuum devices, or surgical options


Q: What is erectile dysfunction?

A: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a medical condition that affects a man’s ability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance.

Q: What causes erectile dysfunction?

A: ED can result from a variety of factors, both physical and psychological, including vascular disease, nerve damage, hormonal imbalances, certain medications, and psychological stress or anxiety.

Q: How is erectile dysfunction diagnosed?

A: Diagnosis of ED typically involves a detailed history, physical exam, and may include blood tests or other evaluations.

Q: How is erectile dysfunction managed?

A: Management may involve lifestyle modifications, medications, psychological therapies, or specialized treatments such as injection therapy or surgery.

Q: Can erectile dysfunction be cured?

A: While ED can often be managed effectively, the ability to cure it depends on the underlying cause. Always discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider.


Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that can have profound effects on a person’s quality of life and relationships. However, with open communication, correct diagnosis, and appropriate treatment, it can be effectively managed. If you’re suffering from ED, please book an appointment with one of our GPs @extracellular to further assist you.

Please book an appointment with one of our GPs @extracellular if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction to help you manage this condition further. 

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