What is erectile dysfunction?

By Dr. Praveen Tripathi - January 20, 2019

Erectile dysfunction (erectile disorder) is an inability to have a proper erection, which interferes with the sex life of an individual. Different individuals may have different kind of problems with their erection and the following are the usual presentations:

1. Inability to achieve erection: In this type, the person unable to have an erection even during the foreplay and hence there is no possibility of any kind of sexual activity

2. Soft erections: In this type, the patient gets some erection but usually penis is not hard enough and hence insertion into the vagina during sex is not possible.

3. Erection for small duration: In this type, the patient is able to good erection at least for some part of the time. In these individuals, usually erection is good during the foreplay but the moment they try to go for insertion (vaginal penetration), the erection is lost. In many cases, erection is initially good, however when there is even minimal distraction, (e.g, reaching out to almirahs to get a condom) the erection gets lost.

4. Loss of erection after penetration: In this type, the person is able to achieve a good erection and also insert the penis into the vagina, but soon after insertion, the erection gets lost. These people usually complain that they are able to start sex but soon after the penis loses hardness and becomes limp and sex cannot be continued thereafter.

5. Situational erectile dysfunction: In this type, the person is able to have sex with one partner but not with the other partner.

It is important to remember that erectile dysfunction is only diagnosed if the person is not able to have a proper erection despite having a good libido (desire for sex). If libido itself is poor, the erec-tion is anyways unlikely to be good.

So, individuals who have a desire for sex but are not able to achieve a good erection when they attempt sex are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction or erectile disorder. As discussed above, erectile dysfunction can present in different ways, however irrespective of the presentation, its a source of lots of embarrassment and stress for the person. To avoid embarrassment, people start avoiding sex, and that further increases the problem.

Also, the relationships of individuals with erectile dysfunction are often strained and often result in breakups/divorces.

The presence of erectile dysfunction also decreases the self-confidence, self-esteem of person and many may develop depression secondarily to erectile dysfunction. People with erectile dysfunction also frequently doubt their masculinity which may further aggravate the problem

It is important to identify the erectile dysfunction as soon as possible and promptly start the treat-ment because this condition is easily treatable.