A man is considered to have erectile dysfunction if he regularly finds it difficult getting or keeping a firm enough erection to be able to have sex, or if it interferes with other sexual activity.
Most men have occasionally experienced some difficulty with their penis becoming hard or staying firm. However, erectile dysfunction (ED) is only considered a concern if satisfactory sexual performance has been impossible on a number of occasions for some time.
Since the discovery that the drug sildenafil, or Viagra, affected penile erections, most people have become aware that ED is a treatable medical condition.
Men who have a problem with their sexual performance may be reluctant to talk with their doctor, seeing it can be an embarrassing issue.
However, ED is now well understood, and there are various treatments available.
Men may not always successfully achieve an erection, and if this rarely happens, it is not considered a medical problem.
However, ED does not only refer to a complete inability to achieve an erect penis. Symptoms can also include struggling to maintain an erection for long enough to complete intercourse or an inability to ejaculate.
There are often also emotional symptoms, such as embarrassment, shame, anxiety, and a reduced interest in sexual intercourse.
A man is considered to have ED when these symptoms occur regularly.