Erectile Dysfunction: Overview

Content Written By: Craig F. Donatucci, M.D.

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a crippling problem for millions of men. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection of sufficient rigidity and duration to allow for satisfactory vaginal intercourse. The initiation and maintenance of erection is a complex interplay of vascular, neural, hormonal and psychological factors. A problem involving any or all of these components can cause impotence. Erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages; but its incidence increases with age. An estimated 1.9% of all 40 year old men are impotent, compared to 25% of all 65-year-old men. These figures include both organic and psychogenic impotence.

While the incidence of erectile dysfunction has remained relatively constant, therapeutic advances and greater public awareness of the problem has increased the number of men seeking treatment. During the past 20 years, through numerous advances in our understanding of the basic pathophysiology of impotence, a new era in the diagnosis and treatment of impotence has dawned. Improved diagnostic procedures and effective medical and surgical therapy are now available.

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